Heat Stroke in Cats

A heat stroke in cats is also known as hyperthermia and occurs due to an exposure to high temperatures. The condition is severe as it may affect the internal organs and these may shut down and lead to coma or even death. Recognizing the first signs of a heat stroke is essential in preventing complications; more importantly, the heat stroke should be prevented.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

A cat’s normal body temperature is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.2 and 39.2 Celsius). Cats don’t sweat like humans do, so they may have difficulties in regulating their body temperature; cats typically regulate their body temperature through panting and licking their fur.

You may notice the first signs of a heat stroke as the cat will display the following symptoms:

  • Rapid and superficial panting
  • Red tongue
  • Discolored or bright red gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Muscle tremor
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Nose bleed
  • Coma
  • Seizures

Also, if you press on the cat’s gums, you will notice that the capillary refill time will be over 1 second.

These symptoms may be more subtle if the cat is in good health; senior, obese cats and felines with respiratory problems may display more serious symptoms.

Treating a Heat Stroke

A heat stroke should be treated immediately; you should make sure that your cat stays in a cool area. Get a towel and soak it in cold water and wrap the cat in the towel. Don’t apply ice directly on the cat’s skin, as the cat’s body may respond by elevating the temperature even more.

You may rub alcohol on the cat’s paws; this may cool him down.

Measure the cat’s temperature and when it is back to normal, remove the wet towel, so as not to cause hypothermia.

You should take the cat to the vet; the vet will establish if there is any damage to the internal organs. The vet will perform some tests and possibly administer some oxygen to stabilize the cat’s condition. An analysis of the urine will be necessary; if there is blood in the urine, the cat’s condition may be serious, as the kidneys may have been damaged.

The vet may recommend a special diet if the kidneys are affected.

Preventing Heat Strokes in Your Cat

To prevent heat strokes from happening, you should make sure your cat is never left in a parked, unventilated car.

You should also provide shade for the cat in the summer months and don’t leave him in the sun for extended periods of time.

If your pet is an indoors cat, make sure there is a cooler spot in the house where the cat can cool down when he is warm. Make fresh water available at all times, both indoors and outdoors.

You may also turn on the air conditioning in the cat’s room or get a fan, which will help the cat regulate his body temperature.