Heatstroke and Hyperthermia in Cats and Dogs

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How to tell if a cat is suffering from heatstroke

Did you know that cats are thought to have evolved from desert animals? This may be why some cats have a propensity to drink minimal water, so dehydration is a big risk in Summer.

Many people are aware of heatstroke in dogs but many are less aware that cats can also suffer from heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke in cats are similar to signs in dogs, however they may be more subtle and can include:

  • Panting, which increases as heatstroke progresses
  • Drooling, salivating
  • Agitation, restlessness (cats may pace)
  • Bright red tongue
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing distress
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
  • Signs of mental confusion, delirium
  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Little to no urine production
  • Coma

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat or if you suspect heatstroke, instigate

Emergency First Aid

at home and then take your cat to the vet immediately.

Emergency First Aid treatment:

  • Remove your pet cat from the hot environment immediately.
  • Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto their fur and skin. Then apply a fan/fanning to maximise heat loss.
  • Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.
  • Don’t use ice-cold water or ice as this may worsen the problem.
  • Then take your cat to the nearest Veterinarian immediately.
  • Heatstroke is an emergency – always see a vet. Even if your pet looks like they may be recovering or you just suspect they might have heatstroke they should still always be checked by a vet.

What will a vet do for a cat suffering from heatstroke?

Vets are trained to assess the severity of the heatstroke and then provide emergency medical treatment as required. They will check your cat’s body temperature with a thermometer and check their vital signs and then instigate emergency treatment which may include:

  • Putting your pet on a drip (intravenous fluids)
  • Cooling treatments e.g. cooling enemas
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Medications as required
  • Blood tests to check organ function
  • Ongoing monitoring and treatment as required
What are other predisposing risk factors for heatstroke in cats?



** All cats are susceptible to heatstroke so owners need to make sure that they take active steps to prevent it.

However, some other predisposing factors for cats can include:

  • Cats with flat faces/short snouts
  • Overweight or obese cats
  • Cats with heart problems
  • Cats with breathing problems
  • Cats with neurological disease
  • Thick/long hair coat
  • Extremes in age (young or old)
  • Dehydration

Brachycephalic anatomy (flat-face) is a major risk factor for heatstroke. Adequate snout length is very important for losing body heat. Flat-faced breeds also often suffer from serious obstructive breathing problems which also significantly impairs their ability to lose heat.

Flat-faced cat breeds include:

  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Or any other cat with a flat face/short snout

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au

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