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Do You Know the Signs of Feline Heat Stroke?

July 10, 2012

Can you guess one sign that a cat has heat stroke?

Wobbly walking.

Photo courtesy barbourians

Since that happens every day in the life of a CH cat, it’s necessary that every cat owner can recognize other heat stroke warning signs and symptoms.

While humans can sweat to reduce their body temperature, cats aren’t that lucky. Instead, they pant and lick their fur, which isn’t a very efficient way to stay cool. Consequently, cats can overheat easily. This is particularly true if a cat’s surroundings are warmer than a cat’s body temperature, which normally ranges between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the cat can’t get access to a cool, shaded area or to water, heat stroke (hyperthermia) will set in. This occurs when high temperatures and humidity elevate the body’s temperature. At this point, the body’s organs can begin to shut down.

Since this is a very real issue, watch your cats for signs that they’re uncomfortable with how hot it is. Some actions may include:

  • Restlessly trying to find a cool spot to lay
  • Panting, drooling, and grooming himself excessively in an attempt to cool off
If this is the case, move your cat to a cool part of your home and provide him with lots of water.

If your cat does get heat stroke, he’ll likely exhibit these symptoms:

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Dark red gums or pale gums
  • Salivating (thick)
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy

It’s also important to remember that some cats can overheat more easily than others. These cats include short-nosed breeds, kittens and elderly cats as well as obese cats.

If you think your cat is suffering from heat stroke, you can do a few things to help him out.

Photo courtesy Phlora

First, you’ll want to bring down your cat’s body temperature. You can do this by wrapping wet, cool (not cold) towels around your cat. Make sure that you’re not covering your cat’s nose or mouth.

If your cat is OK with water, you may want to consider providing a shallow pool of water (for example in your bathtub) that he can lay in. Another option is to apply an ice pack to his head. Keep in mind you don’t want your cat to become *too* cold, as that can lead to hypothermia.

While doing all of this, bring your cat to the coolest part of your home, and offer him as much water as he wants. This is especially true if your cat was laying in the sun. Turn on a fan or place him near an air conditioning vent; the cool vent will help with evaporation.

Once your cat’s temperature has been reduced, take him to the vet. Even though the episode may appear to be over, there may still be a few symptoms and issues that your vet should take a look at.

For example, your vet will most likely take your cat’s temperature and try other methods to bring his body temperature down if it’s not in the ideal zone. Depending on how serious the heat stroke is, your cat may also receive fluids or other medications to help.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 11, 2012 5:47 am

    only had this happen once, and the cat involved overheated from sitting on the computer [the computer went into cardiac arrest for having a cat heating it up too much]. She was susceptible to the heat and I had to keep a close eye on her at all times as she WOULD seek out hotspots. It wasn’t a serious full blown heatstroke episode, but it was pretty scary. The main advice should be ‘stay calm’.
    We bathed her with cool flannels. I have also heard the advice that a cat can be brought to a reasonable temperature by bathing the pads, the only place they sweat.
    The computer went into a coma but survived.

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