This pet cooling mat is a hot commodity in my household
Even I can't help but love the Green Pet Shop cooling mat.
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Ah, summer. The time of ice cream, swimming, travel… and uncomfortably high temperatures across much of the country.
Like many pet owners, it doesn’t matter if I’m dripping in sweat so much as whether my cat appears overbaked. I panic about ensuring he has fresh water more often than I remember to refill my own water bottle. During heat waves I follow him around the house and wipe his back and stomach with a damp cloth or soaked towel to wet his coat. I even make him ice cubes with moist food and water to keep him hydrated. In other words: I am a total simp for my cat.
I’ll go to any length to keep him cool, which is how I found myself shopping for pet cooling mats a couple years ago on Amazon. I settled on a cheap option from the American Kennel Club (which is no longer available). It was a fine product—it seemed to give him some relief and he still curls up on it every so often even though it doesn’t seem to work anymore.
When the Northeast’s first heat wave hit this year, I realized my precious cat needed something better—so I put on my Reviewed hat to track down a new and improved cooling mat to keep him chilling all summer long. That’s how I found myself with the Green Pet Shop’s extra small pressure-activated cooling mat in my Amazon cart one second, and at my door the next.
And while I was shopping for my 16-pound cat, it’s worth mentioning that this product is safe for dogs and available in a variety of sizes—in fact, it seems as though it was designed primarily with dogs in mind. Amazon reviewers are split between cats and dog owners, but the majority seem to purchase the mat for their pooches.
What are pet cooling mats and how do they work?
As it turns out, there are multiple types of pet cooling mats out there. The most common are made with a gel filling or plain-old fabrics that claim cooling properties (think about bamboo, for example). There are electric and water-filled cooling pads and mats available, too. Electric options defeated my intent to avoid using more electricity—I have air conditioning I'd rather turn on. And when it came to water-filled options that adjust with an air valve, I was concerned that my cat’s claws might puncture the plastic covering and lead to leaks that would ruin my apartment flooring.
While electric, water-filled, and natural fabric mats are pretty self-explanatory, I can’t pin down an explanation of how the cooling gel actually works—and that’s coming from someone who has researched them for hours. The companies generally claim that these pads cool in response to pressure. So when your pet lies down on the mat, its cooling properties are activated, providing Bingo or Garfield with a chilly sensation.
I’ll level with you: The marketing and descriptions of these products tend to be a little out there. The crystals in our cooling mat absorb heat from your pet and diffuse it—this is an aggregate summary of multiple product descriptions, not a direct quote from any one company. But, what?
Green Pet Shop claims its cooling mat provides a chilling sensation for three hours. Though it’s not electric, the mat needs 15 to 20 minutes to “recharge” after prolonged use. I can’t even wager a guess as to what “recharging” means in this context—I just know that it works because every time I leave the mat, even for a few minutes and touch it shortly thereafter, it feels cool again.
I’m still not sure what’s in the Green Pet Shop’s cooling mat, or exactly how it does its thing. The company advertises that, whatever it is, it’s “nontoxic.” But in the same breath it says to immediately take your pet to the vet if they ingest it—so that raises some questions. Of course, so long as your pet doesn’t accidentally puncture the mat, this isn’t of much concern.
What is the Green Pet Shop cooling mat?
Green Pet Shop’s pressure-activated cooling mat comes in four sizes. The extra small is close to the size of a standard piece of paper, and the largest size measures 43 inches by 27 inches. I purchased the smallest one, which costs a pretty penny at $25. If you’re trying to find a cooling pad for dogs, especially those on the bigger side that don’t fit in your lap or maybe even take up the entire couch, you’re looking at $80-plus for the largest size.
The mat has a vinyl-like outer texture that could be a deterrent for some pets—though mine, clearly, doesn’t care. The perimeter is wrapped in a thin strip of blue nylon-like material.
This pet pad is not machine-washable, though it can be wiped down with a damp cloth and mild soap should you run into any messes. Green Pet Shop also sells a cover for its cooling pads that is machine-washable, and the company claims that it doesn’t decrease the product’s cooling abilities. So if your dog tends to scratch at its beds, this may help prevent some damage. (And with prices ranging from $9.99 for extra small to $19.99 for extra large options, it’s not as much a racket as the mat itself.)
The gel inside isn’t squishy, as you might think. It’s got a firmer sensation that I’d liken to the pads on folding metal chairs, which provide just enough cushion to prevent you from feeling as though you’re sitting on straight-up metal. For my cat, who loves to sleep on the floor, it was a definite upgrade.
What I love about the Green Pet Shop cooling mat
For starters, from the moment I took this cooling mat out of the package, I could tell it was higher quality than the one I purchased years ago. (That one was the cheapest option on Amazon at the time and it has almost evaporated over time. It doesn’t have a leak as far as I can tell, but it seems as though it’s got less than half the gel it started with.) The Green Pet Shop cooling mat is thicker, and the material feels less like a gel in that it is clearly distributed and has defined spaces. It didn’t squish around or move at random.
Of course, my impressions wouldn’t matter if my cat didn’t use the thing. Fortunately, he loves the cooling mat. The night it arrived I could not, for the life of me, get him to go near it. It was infuriating and I was concerned that I’d wasted money and recycled the box of a product I should have returned. (For the record: The mat can be returned, at least when purchased from Amazon—though likely only if it's in new condition.) Lucky for me, cats are devious little creatures.
The next day, I chatted with my roommate about how bothered I was that the cat continued to avoid the cooling mat. She said that, unbeknownst to me, he’d been sitting on it on and off all day. Sure enough, the following work day, he circled back to the cooling mat time and time again.
The funniest part is that there’s some competition for it now. When it’s a hot summer day and he’s not using the mat, I like to rest my feet on it as I work because it is just that good at cooling. It doesn’t make my whole body feel cooler, by any means, but it has a very noticeable cooling effect. (I’m not the only one: A handful of Amazon reviewers mentioned buying the larger sizes to put under their bed sheets at night.)
My sister recently visited, and even she was impressed by the cooling mat in the midst of a Boston heat wave. She stood on it for a moment before I told her to get off, as she definitely exceeds the 16-pound weight recommendation. Even in that brief moment she stood on it, she was shocked at the cooling sensation it was able to provide and how well it worked. All that’s to say: There’s yet to be a single creature that enters my household and isn’t impressed by this paper-sized cooling mat.
Is the Green Pet Shop cooling mat worth it?
After my first failed cooling mat experience, I was skeptical of similar products. On my second attempt, I thought I might be purchasing another mat with virtually no longevity that didn’t really work. Yet here I am, thrilled to have dumped $25 into something that sits on my floor and is no larger than your average piece of paper.
The Green Pet Shop cooling mats are expensive. I’m lucky in that my cat is, well, a cat. He’s on the larger size at a lean 16 pounds, but he’d never require the large cooling mat that a Great Dane or golden retriever might. Even so, now that I know how well the mat works, I would be inclined to purchase a $50 mid-size one for my future dog, if they needed it.
If you’re looking for options to keep your pet cool in the summer without turning your AC down and electric bill up, I’d recommend the Green Pet Shop cooling mat. Though I’ve only had mine for a few weeks, it’s already gotten ample use. Just handling this product, I can tell its higher quality than the last one I tried—and I’m sure my cat will enjoy it for many summers to come.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.