While our vets in Capitola see fewer cases of heatstroke in cats than in dogs, it does still occur. In this post, we'll share some symptoms of heatstroke in cats and what to do if you think your cat may be suffering from heatstroke.
Heatstroke in Cats
Also referred to as prostration or hyperthermia, heatstroke is a condition defined by an increase in core body temperature due to environmental conditions. A cat's normal body temperature should be around 101 - 102.5° F. If their body temperature rises above 105° F, immediate veterinary care is needed.
Why Cats Get Heatstroke
Exposure to excessive ambient heat is typically the culprit for heatstroke in dogs and cats. Some of the most common causes of heatstroke in cats include:
- Trapped in a hot unventilated space (such as a car)
- Lack of access to water
- Extremely hot outdoor temperature
- Lack of access to shade
Signs of Heatstroke in Cats
Heatstroke symptoms in cats may include one or more of these symptoms:
- Loss of Balance
- Sweaty feet
- Muscle Tremors
- Excessive grooming
- Uncoordinated movement
- Excessive Panting
- Restless behavior
How to Treat Heatstroke in Cats
Heatstroke is a serious condition and symptoms should always be treated as an emergency! If your cat is displaying signs of heatstroke head to your vet straight away, or go to the nearest animal emergency hospital.
If your cat is conscious and you suspect that 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.
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.
How Your Vet Will Treat Your Cat's Heatstroke
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.
Your vet may also administer intravenous fluids to help to 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 caught early and treated immediately cats can recover quickly from heatstroke.
That said, heatstroke poses a very serious health risk to cats. 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, be sure to carefully monitor your cat for signs of illness if they have recently recovered from heatstroke.
Preventing Heatstroke in Cats
To prevent your cat from getting heatstroke, always provide your cat 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, and never leave your pet 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.