Although our Berkeley emergency vets see fewer cases of heatstroke in cats than in dogs, it does happen. Today we discuss the signs of heatstroke in cats, how it can be treated and how to prevent your cat from developing this potentially life-threatening condition.
Your Cat's Body Temperature
Heatstroke, which is also called prostration or hyperthermia, is a condition defined as an increase in core body temperature caused by environmental conditions. Your cat's normal body temperature should be around 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat's body temperature rises above 105, immediate veterinary care is required!
Why Cats Get Heatstroke
Heatstroke in cats and dogs is typically caused by exposure to excessive ambient heat. Some of the most common causes of heatstroke in cats include:
- Extremely hot outdoor temperature
- Lack of access to shade
- Trapped in hot unventilated space (such as a car)
- Lack of access to water
Signs of Heatstroke in Cats
Heatstroke symptoms in cats can include one or more of the following:
- Excessive Panting
- Restless behavior
- Sweaty feet
- Muscle Tremors
- Excessive grooming
- Uncoordinated movement
- Loss of Balance
What To Do If Your Cat Has Heatstroke
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 to Treat Heatstroke in Cats
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 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 a number of 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.