Heat Tolerance


Heat Tolerance

Q: Dear Doctors, Many of us are fortunate enough to work in air conditioned offices. However, we must leave our cats at home with the a/c turned off. A friend of mine asked me what to do with her cat in the hot weather. I am familiar with procedures when a cat has heat stroke, but I cannot find information on how well cats tolerate temperatures in the 90s and 100s.

Recently, I have noticed that my cat is a little lethargic when I get home from work -- especially during the heat waves we've been having. Is it dangerous for her? I leave the windows open, plenty of water in her bowl and some water in the bathtub. Is there anything else I should be doing? (She's also shedding like crazy)

Thanks for your help. Denise & Minuit

A: Denise, At the risk of inciting a lot of stories of heat stroke in cats, I have to admit that I can only remember treating one cat for heat stroke and it went through a whole dryer cycle trapped inside the dryer. I think that the temperament and physiology of cats makes them more tolerant of high temperatures than dogs.

I'm sure she'd appreciate it if you left the air conditioning on but the other measures you have taken should be sufficient to keep the risk of heat related illness very low. Lethargy is a defense mechanism against overheating so Minuit is doing her best to help herself, too.

Mike Richards, DVM

Michal Response: It was touch and go for a while - but the dryer Cat lived. His owner never ran the dryer without a cat check first.


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...