By: Talin Seta Shahinian
Summer is here, which means fun in the sun, BBQs, ice cream, lazy days, and time spent in or on the water. When it comes to our feline friends, though, we need to be extra cautious and keep a more watchful eye over them. The heat can be rough on our cats and cause problems if we’re not careful. One of the major risks they face in the hot summer months is heatstroke. Humans are susceptible to heatstroke as well, but obviously, we can take precautions and care for ourselves. Our furbabies need our help.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke in cats is the same as in humans, dogs, and other animals. Heatstroke is when the cat’s body cannot cool down sufficiently. This is usually the result of high temperatures or excessive humidity. Overheating, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses can affect our cats, just as they do us. If you feel warm or overheated, check on your fur friend. They don’t release heat the same way we do. Cats try to keep overheating at bay by drinking cold water, lying on cool floors or surfaces, and panting.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat Heatstroke
Be sure to watch for these signs which indicate your cat may be experiencing heatstroke:
- A bright red tongue or mouth.
- Dark red gums, or very pale gums.
- Drooling or thick/sticky saliva.
- Weakness or lethargy.
- Sweaty feet; cat’s paws contain sweat glands, so excess sweating can be noticeable by checking their feet.
- A rectal temperature reading above 105ºF (your cat’s normal temperature should be 102 to 103ºF.)
How to Prevent Heatstroke
You can do several things to help prevent heatstroke in your feline friend. These include:
- Water, water, and more water! Make sure your kitty always has enough water to drink. Keeping her hydrated is one of the best ways to guard her against heatstroke and dehydration.
- A homemade ice pack. Wrap ice cubes in a heavy-duty plastic bag, wrap the bag in a towel, and place it somewhere your cat can easily access it to lay down if she’s feeling too warm. Make sure not to use commercial ice packs with gel, as the ingredients can be hazardous for your cat if the pack gets punctured and any of it gets consumed by your buddy.
- Keep a fan or A/C running, even when you’re out. Keeping the indoor temps down is a simple way to prevent heatstroke.
- Close the curtains. Keeping a room dark gives your kitty a place to retreat. Additionally, giving him a spot to retreat will keep him calm under your bed.
How To Treat Heatstroke
If you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, follow these steps:
- Heatstroke is always considered a feline emergency, no matter how minor it may seem, so your best defense to protect him is to take him to the vet or a pet hospital that’s open 24 hours. But if you’re in a situation that requires even more immediate action, here are some things you can do to help your cat right at home before continuing to get Vet care.
- If you find your cat unconscious in the heat, soak him down with cool water (not cold), taking care to avoid water getting in his nose or mouth. Then place a bag of ice or frozen vegetables between his legs and proceed to the vet or hospital immediately.
- If your cat is still conscious, but showing any signs of heatstroke, carry him to a cool room or shaded area outside, soak him with cool, not cold water, and give him cool water to drink immediately. Then get to the vet pronto.
- If your cat shows any milder signs of being bothered by the heat, move her to a cooler spot, and give her plenty of fresh water to drink.
If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our www.purplecatvet.com website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!