Do Cats Get Heat Stroke?

In the hot summer weather like we have been experiencing there is a lot of press coverage about making sure dogs don’t get heat stroke or get left in the car on a hot day. However what about cats?

Cats may not take as many car rides as dogs and therefore be at a lower risk of heatstroke, but that does not mean they don’t take any trips in the car. Often it may be in a carrier to go to the vet or to a boarding facility. As with dogs, even a short period of being left in the car on a hot day can result in an extremely high body temperature and can do damage to internal organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and brain as they begin to shut down when body temperature rises.

Cats much like dogs cool their body by minor perspiration on the foot pads and by panting which allows them to dissipate heat by evaporation. Neither is a very effective cooling system in extreme heat situations.

On a warm day the temperatures in a car can easily reach 50 degrees. The signs of heatstroke in cats include rapid breathing, bright red tongue, dark red gums or even pale gums, salivation, weakness and anxiety. Short faced cats such as Persians may be more prone as well as young cats, older cast, obese, cats and those with pre-existing heart or lung problems such as asthma.

To prevent heatstroke in cats always make sure they have a shaded area, adequate water and do not confine them to vehicles or rooms in the house such as sunrooms where temperatures soar. If possible provide then with air conditioning on hot days.

If your cat does go to grooming facilities be sure they are not left with a warm hair dryer blowing on them as this has been reported as a serious cause of heatstroke in both dogs and cats.

Keeping cats cool in warm weather simply involves some planning in advance as they can overheat just like dogs and people can. Unfortunately if they are exposed to heat for too long it is often too late.