At Cascade Veterinary Referral Center, our Tigard vets see fewer cases of heatstroke in cats than in dogs. Nonetheless, it does happen. Here, 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 a 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 symptoms:
- Excessive Panting
- Restless behavior
- Sweaty feet
- Muscle Tremors
- Excessive grooming
- Uncoordinated movement
- Loss of Balance
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 it is suffering from heatstroke, move it to a cool room and wet its fur with cool - NOT COLD - water before gently placing ice packs on its 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.
Heatstroke, on the other hand, is a serious health risk for cats and dogs. Before allowing your cat to return home, your veterinarian will examine it for signs of organ damage and other serious complications. In some cases, evidence of organ damage does not become apparent for several days; therefore, if your cat has recently recovered from heatstroke, carefully monitor them for signs of illness.
Preventing Heatstroke in Cats
To avoid heatstroke, always provide your cat with a cool, shady area to relax in on hot days, 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.