During the hot summer months, it goes without saying that you need to take precautions for your outdoor pets to protect them from heat stroke and other heat related problems, but even indoor cats require special attention, especially if you’re trying to save on cooling costs by turning the air conditioning up when you’re not at home.

TXU and the SPCA of Texas recommend that pet parents set thermostats no higher than  78-80 degrees, and advise against turning off the air conditioner altogether. If your cat has a health condition, be sure to check with your vet on a good temperature setting. A programmable thermostat can make controlling your indoor temperature easy. With some models, you can even control your thermostat via your smartphone.

TXU offers the following tips to save energy during the summer and still keep your cats safe and comfortable:

Turn off lights

To avoid wasting electricity, turn off lights in rooms you’re not using, whether you’re home or away. According to the SPCA, if your pets are home indoors without you, natural lighting is the most soothing, even if it’s filtered by blinds, drapes or outside awnings.

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Treat sunny windows to reduce glare

We know that cats enjoy basking in the sun. Allegra and Ruby still sought out the sun puddles even when our power was out for two days and the temperature inside our house had reached 90 degrees a few years ago. However, letting the sunshine in unfortunately does affect the indoor temperature in your home, causing your cooling system to switch on more frequently. Consider treating your windows with solar film, or close most of the blinds and drapes (well, maybe not your cat’s favorite one…)

Leave out plenty of water

Regardless of the indoor temperature setting, be sure to leave plenty of water around for your cats to drink. You can drop ice cubes in their water bowls to keep their water cooler longer. And while some people leave faucets dripping to encourage their cats to drink, this wastes water and the electricity used to transport it to your home. A more energy-efficient option is a pet fountain that circulates water and uses minimal amounts of electricity.


Seal air leaks

You can keep more of your household budget for cat treats, toys and pampering if you avoid wasting the electricity that helps to cool your home. So, be sure your windows, doors and fireplaces are sealed to keep cool air from leaking out of the house when it’s hot outside.

Do you have any tips to keep your indoor cats cool?


Thank you to TXU and the SPCA of Texas for these tips. This post was first pubished in 2012 and 2020 and has been updated. 

18 Comments on Cut Cooling Costs Without Sacrificing Your Indoor Cat’s Comfort

  1. I have the ceiling fans on, curtains drawn and the A/C on at night in the bedroom. When I’m downstairs the air conditioner is on when it starts getting toasty. I have 4 water bowls around the house. I also have a small cooling throw for Tasha on the bed which she uses from time to time.

  2. Luke is not a heat seeking cat so when it gets too warm for him he self regulates by lying on the bathroom tile floor to cool down. He also has access to a cooling mat that he utilizes.

  3. Another good tip, that I learned from an ad from our electric company, is to reverse the angle of the blinds in your house so that the sun isn’t coming through them. It also makes it darker so the house stays cooler.

  4. Right now I have a fox and a skunk arguing over food even though there is lots of it as well a big pan of water I must fill up that pan at least 4 or 5 times a day. The bowls for my own cats they get ice cubes in there bowl. I do keep the A/C on all the time.

  5. Last year after a bad storm, I was really concerned about my cats when the power went out. We had to get a hotel room for the night so my husband could sleep so he could go to work the next day. Pele never leaves the house because she is that scared. We took Kiki and Lulu with us and they were terrified in the room so we had to take them back home. Luckily one of my neighbors let me know the power came back on in the middle of the night. That was when I was finally able to sleep knowing my kids weren’t hot.

  6. I have been living in an apartment with paid utilities and usually have the french doors open a bit so the cats can come and go as they please (except when it is too hot, Arizona summers, or too cold.)

    But now I am contemplating moving to an apartment where I pay for electricity and will need all the tips I can find to cut costs. I love the sun coming in all available windows when I am home, but will try closing the blinds when I am at work all day, except for one for the girls. I will miss the fresh air too, with a door open most of the time. Not sure how I will handle that aspect.

    • Susan, I totally understand! I need fresh air, and I always need to have a window at least slightly cracked open, even on the coldest or hottest days, at least for part of the day. I’d rather set the thermostat higher or lower to compensate. I’ve just come to accept that I have to factor that into my heating and cooling costs.

  7. I am all for the solar film on the windows where the kittens sit to look out. Keeps the sun out and the little ones can enjoy looking out. I also have room darkening shades that are pulled half way down to where the film starts. It is amazing how much cooler the house will stay with just a few changes. Windows that are not “kitty windows” I pull the darkening shades all the way down to keep out the sun. These also protect fading of your furnishings and carpets. Ceiling fans are great for keeping air moving. AC is used when it is uncomfortable for me, then I know it is uncomfortable or the little ones.

  8. I also put ice cubes in my cats water bowls this time of year, and also give them extra wet foods for their meals. Something with gravy like the Natural Balance Platefulls keeps them hydrated and happy during the hot summer months!

  9. My house is so dark in the summer with room-darkening mini-blinds in dark colors that I need special lighting to see what I’m doing! But it definitely works.

    Fans don’t work well above 90 degrees, but the do work to help cool air, and circulate air generally, at temperatures even in the 80s. If your indoor area is already cool, ceiling fans on a low setting pulling the air upward will help circulate the cool air around the room and dissipate a blanket of warm air that may be up near the ceiling, keeping a room warmer. And smaller oscillating floor and clip fans can also help keep air moving so that hot spots don’t develop. The moving air can help to make a warm room seem cooler without turning the temperature down.

    And a very simple thing–that my cats love–is to place a bowl of ice cubes in front of a fan, even on a low setting, and let it blow the cool air from the ice into the room. This can actually cool down a small room.

      • It works for humans too, Ingrid, trust me! And I forgot to say it also enhances their environment and they are more than happy to lick the ice cubes. Anything that melts is blown off by the fan, or they’d drink that too.

  10. Also, make sure your a/c filters are clean – cat hair can cut down on the efficiency. Change or wash (permanent ones) once a month. Solar screens on south and west facing windows are a big help down here in TX.

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