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Heatstroke in Cats

As the weather gets warmer, the risk of overheating rises too. Prevention and swift treatment are crucial for avoiding complications. Here, our Clinton Township vets share the signs and symptoms of heatstroke in cats, the treatment options and when to seek emergency care.

Your Cat's Body Temperature

when your cat's temperature surpasses 102.5°F (39.2°C), it's referred to as heatstroke. Cats can suffer from heatstroke if they are exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods or if they are unable to find a cool spot to escape the heat.

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can lead your feline friend to experience severe symptoms including organ failure, seizures, and even death if not treated promptly!

Why Cats Get Heatstroke

Cats are unable to sweat and cool down like you or me, which means that extra precautions should be taken to prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke in cats is typically caused by exposure to excessive ambient heat combined with their body's inability to cool down sufficiently. Some of the most common causes of heatstroke in cats include:

  • Extremely hot outdoor temperature
  • Lack of access to shade
  • Trapped in a hot unventilated space (such as a car)
  • Lack of access to water 

Heatstroke Symptoms in Cats

Knowing what the signs of heatstroke in cats look like can help to prevent serious complications. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Restless behavior
  • Sweaty feet
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Drooling
  • Excessive grooming
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

How to Treat Heatstroke in Cats

If your cat is awake but you think they may be suffering from heatstroke, move your cat into a cool room and wet your cat's fur with cool (NOT COLD) water, then place ice packs gently on your cat's feet.

You should contact your veterinarian to have them examine your cat as soon as possible. While transporting your cat to the vet keep the vehicle's air conditioning on full or open windows to allow airflow to help cool your cat down.

Once at the clinic, your vet will work to reduce your cat's body temperature back down to normal. This may be done using cool water and/or ice packs. They may also administer intravenous fluids to help lower your cat’s temperature, counteract the effects of shock, and minimize the risk of organ damage. In some cases, oxygen therapy may also be required.

The team at your vet's office will monitor your cat's body temperature every few minutes until your pet's body temperature is back within normal parameters. If addressed quickly, your cat should recover from heatstroke easily.

Is heatstroke in cats an emergency?

If your cat is displaying signs of heatstroke head to your vet straight away, or go to the nearest animal emergency hospital. Heatstroke poses a very serious health risk to cats and dogs. Your vet will examine your cat for signs of organ damage and other serious complications before allowing your pet to return home.

In some cases, evidence of organ damage does not become apparent for several days. Because of this, you should continue to monitor your cat's condition in the days after they've recovered from heatstroke.

Preventing Heatstroke in Cats

There are several ways that you can help prevent heatstroke in cats. This includes:

  • Provide your kitty with access to a cool, shady space to relax in on hot days.
  • Make sure that your feline friend has access to plenty of fresh clean water to drink.
  • Never leave your cat trapped in a vehicle or hot room.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Heatstroke is very dangerous in both dogs and cats and should be treated immediately. Please contact our Clinton Township vets at the first signs of overheating. 

New Patients Welcome

Snider Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clinton Township companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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