Heat tolerance and intolerance in cats


Heat tolerance and intolerance in cats

Heat stroke treatment

Q: Dr. Mike You said that you treated a cat the was stuck in a dryer for a complete cycle. What did you do for the cat? Thank you in advance. t-

A: I treated this particular cat about 7 or 8 years ago, so this is from distant memory, but here goes: The cat arrived in our clinic after the owner discovered that she had accidentally shut the cat in the drier and run the drier for an entire cycle, drying a load of clothes. The cat was comatose on arrival and its body temperature was still pretty high. It had second degree burns on much of its body, several chipped teeth, was bleeding from its mouth and appeared to be bruised in several areas. We placed an IV catheter immediately and began to run fluids to cool her down and to try to prevent secondary bleeding disorders which are common with heat stroke. We also bathed her in cool water to try to give her skin some relief. We used heparin therapy for blood clotting problems and hospitalized her for about two weeks while continuing to deal with various complications from the incident. It took two or three days before she really appeared to be fully conscious. Eventually time and our efforts (mostly time) enabled her to heal the skin damage and she survived the bleeding problems. She never grew hair in several spots on her body, we removed some of her teeth and her tail was always crooked. We couldn't figure out if that was from scar tissue contraction or a luxation of the tail that we didn't diagnose during her initial therapy. It was truly amazing to me that she lived and was pretty much normal after a few weeks. I wonder if she was just an incredibly strong willed cat or if cats respond better to therapy for heat stroke than dogs. I am hoping that I never have enough cases of this degree of heat exposure to find out. Mike Richards, DVM Heat tolerance and cats

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.

Last edited 09/17/02


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...