How to prevent heat stroke in cats

Published 5:00am 27 December 2022

How to prevent heat stroke in cats
Words by Moreton Daily

By Kylie Mackay, Northshore Pet Resort

While not as common as dogs, cats can also develop heat stroke, and there are a few subtle differences in the way this presents.

During the hottest summer months in Australia, veterinarians see a significant increase in the number of cases of pets suffering from heat stroke.

This is a preventable condition, and often occurs because pet owners are not aware of how quickly a pet can overheat to the point that it becomes life threatening.

What is Heat Stroke?

While humans regulate their body temperature by sweating, cats only have a few sweat glands on their paw pads and noses. Dogs will pant to rid themselves of excess heat, whereas cats will groom themselves as a method of cooling to lower their body temperature.

Causes of Heat Stroke

Environmental conditions are the most obvious contributing factor, such as high temperatures, high humidity, no access to shade or drinking water, or being left in a closed garage or car.

Brachycephalic breeds (flat faces) can make certain cats more susceptible to heat stroke, such as Persians. Animals with pre-existing medical conditions can also be more prone to heat stroke, particularly if they have lung or heart problems, or if they are overweight.

Prevention is the best cure! Make sure your cat always has plenty of fresh water, lots of shade and cool areas to sleep throughout the day. Keeping long-haired coats well-brushed and clipped in summer is also a great way to help them stay cool.

Signs and Symptoms if heat stroke

  • Excessive grooming
  • Reduced urine output
  • Rapid breathing, increased heat rate
  • Changes in gum colour
  • Collapsing
  • Muscle tremors and seizures

Treatment

Immediately remove your cat from the hot environment, and gradually lower their body temperature by wetting them down or placing them under a fan. Offer them water and take them to the vet immediately for treatment.

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