While our Boulder and Westminster emergency vets see fewer cases of heatstroke in cats than in dogs, it does happen. In today's post, we share some of the symptoms of heatstroke in cats, and what you should do if you think your cat is suffering from heatstroke.
Heatstroke in Cats
Heatstroke, also known as prostration or hyperthermia, is a condition characterized by an increase in core body temperature caused by environmental factors. The normal body temperature of your cat should be around 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat's body temperature rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she must seek immediate veterinary attention!
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
If your cat is suffering from heatstroke you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- 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 are suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool room, wet their fur with cool (NOT COLD) water, and gently place ice packs on their 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.
Heatstroke, however, is a serious health risk for cats and dogs. Before allowing your cat to return home, your vet will check for signs of organ damage and other serious complications. In some cases, evidence of organ damage does not appear for several days; therefore, if your cat has recently recovered from heatstroke, carefully monitor them for signs of illness.
Preventing Heatstroke in Cats
On hot days, always provide your cat with access to a cool, shady space to relax in, make sure your feline friend has 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.