Heat stroke in cats - Symptoms and first aid


Summer is a time of risk of heat stroke in cats. You have to protect them as much as possible, heat can be very dangerous! If your cat suffers a heat stroke, this it could cause irreversible damage, or even death.

We tell you what the symptoms of heat stroke are so you can detect them in time and act, as well as how you can prevent it.

Heat stroke in cats, what causes it?

The normal temperature of cats is between 38 and 39.5º. When they rise from that temperature, the body tries to self-regulate by means of sweat on the pads, the genitals, saliva and through gasps. If it only goes up a little, nothing happens, with these mechanisms they can be regulated without problems, but there are certain groups more susceptible to the situation getting worse and suffering a heat stroke: elderly and very young cats, the sick and obese .

What causes heat stroke in cats? What triggers this problem most often is:

  • Lack of water: Did you know that cats don't drink much? But when it is very hot, it is important to make sure that it hydrates well.
  • High temperatures, suffocating heats, even worse if the environment is humid.
  • Lack of ventilation: keeping the cat in a closed place increases the risk of heat stroke (inside the car, in a cage or carrier ...).
  • Sun exposure for a long time: the direct action of the sun, especially on the head, is a very large risk. Offer it cool and shady places!

Symptoms of heat stroke in cats

We already know what causes heat stroke in cats, but How to know if it is happening? You should be alarmed if you observe:

  • Temperature greater than 42º
  • Weakness
  • Excessive salivation
  • High heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Bluish tongue
  • Difficulty walking, wobbles and seems dizzy

As we said, Heat stroke is very dangerous for cats and you have to act as soon as possible or you could die. If you suspect that your cat has a heat stroke, you should call the veterinarian urgently, but you can also follow these tips to practice first aid ...

What to do in case of a heat stroke in cats

Helping your cat urgently is the most important. You can't stop calling the vet, but also, These first aid will help you make you feel better in the short term:

  • You don't want to lower your temperature radically, It is better to do it gradually. If not, you could cause hypothermia.
  • Move your cat to a cool place in the house, where the sun does not shine. You can lay it on the floor and help with a fan at minimum power.
  • Keep your mouth moist You can use a spray with water. Do not let it dry, repeat as necessary.
  • With gauze or small damp rags, cool your body: focus on the head, legs, chest, neck and gut. Do not use a large towel to wrap it whole, it is better to go slowly.
  • Check your temperature with a thermometer until it goes back down to 39º.

When it stabilizes at a safe temperature, you will have to take it to the veterinarian to review it and can rule out sequels, in addition to sending some recovery treatment if necessary, such as vitamins or mineral salts.

Learn to prevent heat stroke in cats

A heat stroke in cats can be solved if it is timely, But it is best to prevent it! To keep it out of danger, follow these tips:

  • NEVER leave your cat inside the car, much less in summer. Although it is in the shade, a car can accumulate a very dangerous heat in just a few minutes. Do not leave it in the carrier, these bags are for temporary use and under surveillance.
  • Make sure your cat has Access to fresh water at all times.
  • Always leave one available cool or shady area.
  • If your cat is long-haired, in summer you can go to the hairdresser to cut the outer mantle. But you should never strip your cat completely! Hair is the only protection they have against the sun, Without him, they burn.
  • Prevent your cat from being obese. Keep him very active, but don't overdo it either! Too intense exercise also produces a lot of heat.
  • Give her food at sunset and in a cool place.

So that your cat does not suffer heat stroke this summer, just take care of it! Watch that it is in cool places, if you like to go outside, do not allow it in the hottest hours.

Causes of heat stroke in cats

The usual temperature of the felines round between 38ºC and 39.5ºC. Once these levels have been exceeded, the cat tries to regulate the temperature through the sweat on the pads, the genital area, the saliva and can even gasp.

Some felines are going to be more susceptible than others to suffer a heat stroke and it is that the advanced age, health problems already present or obesity can cause the animal to have a certain predisposition to it.

The most common causes Heat stroke are as follows:

  • Water: As we all know, cats are very hygienic and neat animals, so that water in poor condition, not renewed and even the lack of it can cause you not to drink with adequate frequency. We must be alert.
  • Temperature: High temperatures, humidity and in general, suffocating environments, dehydrate our pet more easily.
  • Closed spaces: Cages, carriers and cars are not appropriate places to leave our cat. These types of spaces, if not well ventilated, can reach high temperatures with great ease. We should not leave our cat in such spaces.
  • Prolonged sun exposure: The lack of shade and cool places to take refuge can cause an alarming increase in body temperature. It is important to ensure from time to time that our cat is well.

If we suspect that our cat may be dehydrated or suffering from excessive heat it will be important to evaluate the symptoms that we will explain below. Do not forget that heat stroke is a serious health problem and therefore we must act quickly.

Heat stroke in cats, a danger that comes in summer

Summer is not only dangerous for people. Cats and dogs are also susceptible to a dangerous heat stroke. "Felines can suffer a heat stroke in the same way as dogs, which poses a risk to their health," explains Ion Sustatxa, veterinarian and author of the Amores Dogs blog. and cats

Cats suffer heat stroke in summer, such as dogs, a collapse of their body that can be prevented

The heat stroke occurs when the cat's body suffers a collapse due to the excessive increase in its temperature. Exposure to extreme heat prevents the animal from breathing and cooling normally, so its vital organs are in danger. In the worst case, the cat can die.

Felines and people are not equal. And these differences include the normal temperature of our bodies, which in humans ranges between 35 and 37 ° C. The cat temperature is somewhat higher, since it is around 39 ºC, but its ability to lose heat is much lower. Therefore, the critical point for felines is 40 ° C, which is when the risk to them appears, "says Sustatxa.

Collapse in cats is more common than it might seem. "The arrival of summer brings threats to cats, such as heat stroke, a danger that unfortunately is too frequent and very difficult to treat," says veterinarian Maureen McMichael, in a study conducted for the University from Illinois.

Heat stroke in cats, why does it occur?

People can get rid of our winter coats, dress in shorts, flip flops and even with visors when the summer months arrive. But this is not all: we humans also have an important mechanism that makes us more resistant to heat stroke: sweating.

Cats don't sweat as much as people, but plenty of water helps them lose heat through their tongue

Does this mean that cats and dogs do not sweat? Not really, but they do it at a much lower rate than ours. Felines yes perspire, although they are not able to break a sweat, as we do people when the heat is excessive or we exercise.

The body of the furry friend, in addition, does not have sweat glands scattered throughout his body, as we do have humans. These cells specialized in expelling water vapor are concentrated in the pads of the cat's legs and its armpits. Therefore, they are not as efficient in the task of cooling when the heat is pressing.

So, How do cats sweat? The feline has a bit more perspiration capacity than the dog, a release of heat that they make through the pads of their legs and their armpits, but in much less quantity. Therefore, these areas get wet when mercury rises.

"But the greatest heat loss in cats occurs through the mouth," Sustatxa clarifies. Felines expel excess temperature through their feline tongue. This mechanism, unfortunately, is not as fast as ours, that we are capable of breaking a sweat (and wetting the shirt). Therefore, cats are more vulnerable to temperature rises during the summer.

How to protect the cat from heat stroke? Six tips

The health of cats depends largely on the care they receive from us. Therefore, prevention is the first step to prevent the cat from suffering a heat stroke.

Below are some tips to protect hairy tenants of the house during the summer.

The cat must be able to take refuge from the heat. Daily situations that involve a risk for four-legged friends include sun exposure at rush hour and excessive cat play during peak temperatures. These scenarios should be avoided, and exercise the cat during the night, once the sun has fallen.

Water, water and more water for the cat. Since the cat is refrigerated through its mouth and tongue, always having a bowl of clean, fresh water nearby will encourage you to drink and thereby lose temperature. The Liquid containers should be placed in different parts of the home, always in the shade, and replace the water at least twice a day.

Wet the cat's paws. The sweat glands of the animal are concentrated in the pads of its paws. Therefore, wetting them regularly will help you stay cooler.

Brushing the cat removes dead hairs of their fur, which block the expulsion of heat through the body. This simple gesture, repeated every day, helps keep it cooler.

Special care for flat or older cats. Brachycephals, with a crushed nose, as well as older animals, have more difficulty cooling. For this reason, they result more sensitive to heat stroke.

The car in summer is dangerous for the cat. Although cats do not usually travel or go for a drive as much as dogs, it should be remembered that the car is a place that concentrates the heat and raises the temperature in a few minutes. The recommendation is not to leave the animal alone in the car, and that the vehicle remains in the shade at the stops and well refrigerated.

My cat suffers a heat stroke, what do I do?

The best way to to avoid a dangerous heat stroke in the cat is to prevent it. That is, do not exercise the cat in full sun in summer, offer fresh water, as well as adequate shade.

But what to do if the cat's panting becomes excessive, and the animal is at serious risk of collapse due to rising temperatures?

The cat must be moved to another place, fresh, airy, where the temperature is lower.

Encourage the cat to drink water, without forcing him. The contact of the liquid with the tongue and its mouth will help the four-legged friend lose excess heat.

Wet your legs, in order to soak your pads, to support your perspiration.

Call the veterinarian, who can go home, and follow his instructions.

What to do if the cat suffers a heat stroke - First aid

If our cat is suffering a heat stroke or has a very high body temperature it will be essential to apply first aid as soon as possible.

In Expert Animal we recommend calling the emergency veterinarian to describe the symptoms we observe and follow their specific instructions. However, here are some tips you can follow to ease your situation:

  1. It is important to highlight that we should not lower its temperature radically but rathergradually. A change too abrupt could cause hypothermia in our cat.
  2. Take your cat to a cool place That does not receive the sun's rays. You can also help yourself with a fan at minimum speed.
  3. Moisten your mouth slightly with a spray diffuser, for example.
  4. Apply fresh water cloths on head, neck, belly, chest and legs. You can use gauze or small rags, never a whole towel.
  5. Check its temperature until it reaches 39ºC.
  6. Moisten your mouth regularly with the diffuser.

Ideally, at this point, you would urgently request an appointment with the specialist to help us rule out possible side effects heat stroke derivatives. The professional can also recommend the contribution of mineral salts or glucose. We will continue to take care of our cat paying attention, making sure that it has access to fresh water at all times and avoiding direct contact with the sun.

Tips to avoid heat stroke in cats

Whether our cat has suffered a heat stroke or else, it will be important keep these tips in mind in summer or on days of excessive heat. Take note:

  • Never leave your cat locked in a car, a carrier or any type of cabin, especially under the sun. These instruments must always be of temporary use.
  • Check that your cat always has fresh and clean water in abundance.
  • We will always provide a shadow area where the cat can be cool.
  • In summer it will be advisable to go to the feline hairdresser to trim the mantle of long-haired cats.
  • We will avoid obesity through exercises for cats however we will avoid intense and prolonged exercise.
  • Offer food at sunset, always in a cool place.

Affection and care for our pet is the true formula to prevent heat stroke. Therefore it is useful pay regular attention and ensure that the 5 freedoms of animal welfare are covered.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Heat stroke in cats - Symptoms and first aid, we recommend that you enter our First Aid section.