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Heatstroke in Cats — Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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Hot summers are a joy for everyone—even for our feline friends. This is especially true because cats have a liking for heat and enjoy warm weather.

It also means that cats are tolerant to high temperatures and can find ways to keep cool in hot conditions.

However, sometimes temperatures and humidity levels go beyond expected levels, putting cats at risk for heat-related illnesses. Although all cats can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, outdoor cats have a more significant risk.

In this article, we'll go through the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke in cats, plus some prevention measures.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs and Cats

Since cats are very independent and don't always communicate when they're uncomfortable, watch for unusual behaviors or concerning symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent Panting, which increases as heat stroke progresses
  • Drooling, salivating
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Bright red tongue
  • Dark red or pale gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Labored/ distressed breathing
  • Glazed-over eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
  • Looking for shade or water sources

Under extreme heat conditions, the symptoms may graduate to:

  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Mental confusion, hallucination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Little to no urine production
  • Coma

Cats may be at a higher risk for heat exhaustion if they:

  • Are dehydrated
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are sick with health conditions like heart and breathing problems, neurological diseases etc.
  • Are extremely young or senior cats
  • Have long hair or a thick coat
  • Have short snouts/ flat faces like the Persian, Himalayan, Exotic Shorthair, etc.

Pro Tip: Panting, drooling, excessive grooming, sweaty feet and restlessness are all initial signs that your cat is undergoing heat stress.

Emergency First Aid Treatment for Heat Stroke

Like in humans, heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency. You should always seek veterinary attention if you suspect that your cat might have heatstroke.

Meanwhile, below are some life-saving steps you should take before you get veterinary assistance;

  • Put your cat in a cool shaded area and away from the hot environment immediately.
  • Apply or spray tepid/cool water to their fur and skin.
  • Use a fan/fanning to help maximize heat loss.
  • You can also wet down areas that are affected by the heat.

Pro Tip: Don't use ice-cold water or ice on your cat, which may intensify the issue. Even if your cat looks like they may be recovering, ensure you go for a vet check-up.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Cats

Cat parents can take the following steps to keep their feline companions safe from heatstroke.

Paying attention to the signs of heat stress

Encourage your cat to drink more water

Always ensure that your cat has easy access to fresh, cool drinking water across multiple water points.

Consider switching to wet food in the dry seasons to help with hydration.

Don't leave your cat inside locked vehicles.

Regularly and safely monitor your cat's temperature with a rectal thermometer (anything above 103°F requires veterinarian attention).

Use outdoor houses, outdoor enclosures or feeding stations with shades.

Consider keeping your cat indoors under extreme scorching conditions over 105°F.

Monitor your cat's outdoor activity with location trackers in case of anything such as getting trapped.

For more tips on preventing heatstroke in cats, check out more tips to keep your feral cat cool in the summer.

Bottom Line

Heat Stroke or hypothermia in cats is lethal. If not recognized quickly or left untreated, it can lead to death.

The good news; heatstroke is preventable. By being aware of the signs of heat stress and following the listed tips of treating and preventing heatstroke, you can be sure that your cat will enjoy and get through summer safely.

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