Are Cats at Risk of Heatstroke?

There’s plenty of articles explaining the dangers of heatstroke in dogs, but what about our feline friends? Not only do high Florida temperatures and humidity increase the changes of your cat succumbing to heatstroke, but other factors increase likelihood as well. Weight, breed, age, coat, and other existing medical conditions can increase the changes of your cat overheating.

Situations to Avoid

We may not take our cats out for a walk in the park like we do our dogs, but there are many situations in which your cat can suffer heatstroke that you should be aware of. If you have an outdoor cat, you must make sure that he has plenty of access to water and shade. Be careful to prevent him from being trapped in any oven-like structures, such as sheds or garages, as that is a recipe for disaster.

We’ve heard all kinds of stories of dogs being left in hot cars, but keep in mind not to do the same for your cat. This typically happens during long distance drives when you are moving, for example. You may not mind having the AC turned off, but your cat does! Make sure he is as comfortable as possible during any long trips in the car.

Believe it or not, indoor cats getting stuck in the clothes dryer is not an uncommon occurrence. Make sure these machines are closed at all times. A cat that is confined to any area without access to water and shade is a cat in a dangerous situation. Your cat should always have fresh water and a place to cool down.

Signs to Recognize

Cats are known for hiding their illnesses, so you will have to pay extra attention to your cat’s behavior and notice anything out of the ordinary such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Sweaty feet (cats sweat through glands in their paws)
  • Bright red tongue or mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Drooling or thick/sticky saliva

Treatment

Number one on your list should be moving your cat to a shady and cool area, preferably air-conditioned. You can also place a cool wet towel underneath your cat to reduce his temperature. Try to get your cat to drink some water, but do so in small but frequent amounts. Drinking too much water too fast can cause additional problems.

If your cat’s temperature is still above 104°F, or you suspect is still might be, spray cool (but not cold) water on them and place a fan nearby if they aren’t afraid of the noise. If he has cooled off enough (103.5°F) be sure to dry him off a bit with a dry towel, so as to prevent any excessive cooling.

Even if you believe you have the situation under control, you should still take your cat to the veterinarian for further evaluation. Like previously stated, cats are good at hiding health issues, and there may have been something you missed that a veterinarian can assess.