Heat stroke or hyperthermia is an excessive temperature rise in the body that can cause harm to your cat’s health: in serious cases, irreversible damage and even death can occur. This is why it is essential to know the symptoms of heat stroke in cats so that you can offer prevention methods or first aid if necessary.
Our article will explain how to identify heat stroke in cats and share some tips in case of an emergency. Continue reading!
Causes of heat stroke in cats
The usual body temperature of cats is approximately between 38 and 39.5 ºC (100.5 and 103 ºF). If these numbers rise, the cat tries to regulate its temperature by sweating through its paw pads, its genital area, saliva and even by panting.
Some cats are more susceptible to suffering from heat stroke than others, especially elderly cats, cats with other health problems, and obese cats.
The common causes of heat stroke in cats are:
- Dehydration: As we all know, cats are very clean and meticulous animals, so they may refuse to drink dirty or unchanged water. If your cat isn’t drinking water, start by changing it.
- Temperature: High temperatures, humidity and generally stuffy environments are more likely to make your pet dehydrated and thus prone to heat stroke.
- Closed spaces: Cages, carriers and cars are not appropriate places to leave your cat. Unventilated spaces can reach high temperatures very easily.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun: A lack of shade and cool places to shelter can cause an alarming increase in your cat’s body temperature. Check your cat’s location regularly.
If you suspect that your cat may be dehydrated or suffering from excessive heat, it is important to assess the symptoms explained below. Remember that heat stroke is a serious health problem, so you must act quickly.
Symptoms of heat stroke in cats
As mentioned above, heat stroke can have devastating effects on a cat’s health and may even cause multiple organ failure, intestinal bleeding or death.
If you suspect that your cat may be suffering from heat stroke, it is essential to check its temperature using a thermometer. If it is more than 42 ºC (107.5 ºF), you must act quickly and give first aid. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle tremors
- Trembling and shaking
- Excessive salivation
- Elevated heart rate
- Blue tongue
First aid for heat stroke in cats
If your cat is suffering from heat stroke or has a very high body temperature, provide first aid as soon as possible. We recommend calling the emergency vet and describing the symptoms to them so that you can follow their specific instructions.
However, here are some tips you can follow to help the situation:
- Do not lower the body temperature radically, but gradually. A too abrupt change could lead to hypothermia.
- Take your cat to a cool place not in direct sunlight. A fan at minimum speed can also help.
- Wet your cat’s mouth lightly with a water spray.
- Apply wet flannels with fresh water to the cat’s head, neck, abdomen, chest and legs. You can use gauze or small rags, never a whole towel.
- Keep checking its temperature until it reaches 39 °C (102 ºF).
At this point, it would be best to get an urgent appointment with a specialist to help you rule out any possible side effects from heat stroke. The professional may also recommend using mineral salts or glucose. Continue taking care of your cat, paying attention to it and making sure it has access to fresh water at all times, avoiding direct contact with the sun.
Preventing heat stroke in cats
Whether your cat has suffered from heat stroke or not, it is important to consider these tips in summer or very hot days. Take note:
- Never leave your cat locked in a car, carrier or any type of container, especially under the sun. These devices should always be temporary.
- Check your cat always has plenty of fresh, clean water.
- Always provide a shaded area where your cat can be cool.
- In summer, it is advisable to go to the groomers to trim its coat.
- Your cat should get regular exercise, but you should avoid intense, prolonged workouts especially in hot days.
- Provide it with food at sunset, always in a cool place.
Affection and care towards your pet is the real formula to prevent heatstroke. It is therefore helpful to regularly pay attention and make sure the five freedoms of animal welfare are covered.
This article is purely informative. We does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.