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Heatstroke in Cats - What You Need to Know

As the weather starts to warm up, the risk of heatstroke in cats begins to increase. Here you can learn more about the symptoms of heatstroke in cats, and what to do if you think your cat has heatstroke.

Your Cat's Body Temperature

Heatstroke occurs when your kitty's body temperature rises above normal levels, typically above 102.5°F (39.2°C). Cats can suffer from heatstroke if they are exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods or if they are unable to find a cool spot to escape the heat.

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can lead your feline friend to experience severe symptoms including organ failure, seizures, and even death if not treated promptly!

Why Cats Get Heatstroke

Cats are incredibly sensitive to heat, but unlike humans, they are unable to sweat efficiently to cool down. Heatstroke in cats is typically caused by exposure to excessive ambient heat combined with their body's inability to cool down sufficiently. 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 

Heatstroke Symptoms in Cats

Recognizing the early signs of heatstroke plays a crucial role in providing lifesaving treatment. Common signs of heatstroke in cats include:

  • Excessive Panting
  • Restless behavior
  • Sweaty feet
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Excessive grooming
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Loss of Balance
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

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 kitty 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.

Heatstroke in dogs and cats is a very serious condition that requires immediate care. If your pet is displaying signs of heatstroke, contact our Rock Hill emergency clinic right away. 

Vet Care for Rock Hill Pets

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Rock Hill, accepts new patients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency/urgent care service welcomes all patients.

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