Heat stroke in cats is a very real and serious concern on hot days. When there is a heat wave, everyone is looking for ways to cool off and stay healthy.
Here are a few tips for avoiding cat heat stroke (also known as hyperthermia) when the temperature is unforgiving. Also, we've included signs, symptoms, and treatments for heat stroke in cats.
Why Worry About Cat Heat Stroke?
Many of us usually think about dogs when it comes to heat stroke in the summer. But cats can be afflicted, too. Their means of cooling down are limited to panting, or sweating from the pads of their feet.
Seeing a cat panting is troubling. If you are concerned, Cat Health Guide provides an article explaining the causes and reasons for cat panting, beyond heat stroke in cats.
Heat stroke in cats is an emergency situation and needs urgent care. If you suspect heat stroke based on the following signs and symptoms, get him to a veterinarian immediately.
Who's At Risk:
Any cat can succumb to heat stroke, but some are at a higher risk. These include:
- Breeds with shortened faces, like the Persian
- Cats with airway diseases
- Elderly or ill cats, young kittens
- Overweight cats
Signs of Cat Heat Stroke:
- Rapid breathing/panting - one of the first signs is fast, noisy, frantic panting
- Vomiting (perhaps with blood)
- Diarrhea (perhaps with blood)
- Restlessness and/or lethargy
- Excessive sweating
- Salivation - thick, sticky saliva
- Compulsively grooming (trying to cool down - by licking themselves they dampen their fur, which provides a cooling effect as it evaporates)
- Redness in the tongue and mouth, pale gums
- Stumbling or falling down
A cats regular body temperature is 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. The definition of heat stroke in cats is a rectal body temperature of 103 degrees. As heat stroke progresses, the saliva will become thick and sticky, and at 108.5 degrees the body functions start to shut down.
Things To Do For Heat Stroke In Cats:
If you suspect it's cat heat stroke, you need to cool him down quick and go straight to the vet. Here are some things you can do:
Dip him in water - not cold, more like lukewarm to slightly cool. Test the temperature inside your wrist. Use the bathtub and keep his head above. Or put him in the kitchen sink and use the spray nozzle with cool water on him. Or put just his paws in cool water.
Put him in front of a fan or in an air-conditioned room to dry. The evaporation is cooling.
Give him cold water with some salt in it to help rehydrate him. If he refuses to drink, try using a syringe or spoon to put some in the side of his mouth. (Careful not to squirt it down his throat.)
Apply a bag of frozen peas, ice packs, or cold washcloths around his head and body.
If possible, take the cats temperature (rectally).
When his temperature is in normal range again, stop the cooling measures or he could get hypothermia.
How Do Vets Treat Heat Stroke In Cats?
- The vet will monitor his temperature and bring it down carefully if needed
- Your cat may be given fluids
- Your cat may be given oxygen
- Your cat will be monitored for signs of organ damage
Down The Road:
- There are possible long-term organ complications from heat stroke.
- Cats who have succumbed to heat stroke are more susceptible to getting it again.
Cool as a Cucumber on a Hot Summer Day
Measures to Avoid Heat Stroke In Cats
The Lion Cut
Who wants to wear a winter coat all summer? Depending on the climate where you live, some folks go the route of giving their cat a lion cut in the summer. Cats don't mind, and if you know you are in for a long, hot summer this may be the way to go.
Limit Time Outside
If your cat goes outside, try to keep him in during the hours of 11:00am - 3:00pm.
Of course, never leave a cat in a parked car, even in cooler months. The interior heats up to dangerous and deadly temperatures fast.
For many of us, summer is the season of family fun, vacations and lazy days. Avoiding heat stroke in cats is totally worth the effort. With a few precautions, your cat will also enjoy the "dog days of summer!"