Is Your Cat Overheated?

Red kitten cat sleeps on a bench in parkIt’s the summer season, and many cat owners don’t know what to look for in an overheated cat. It is important, especially if you don’t have central air, to help keep your cat cool. Even though cats are mammals and regulate their own body temperature, this doesn’t mean that no situation is too hot for your cat. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of an overheated cat so that you can prevent your cat from heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia. Here, we’re going to talk about some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for on hot days, and ways that you can remedy a hot cat.

A cat’s normal body temperature falls between 99.5-102.5 degrees fahrenheit. If a cat is suffering from a moderate heatstroke, their body temperature will fall between 104-106. Anywhere above 106 degrees farenheit is considered severe heatstroke, and requires veterinary care immediately. If you are concerned that your cat is suffering from overheating, you may want to take their temperature. You will do this either with a rectal thermometer or an ear thermometer.

If you do not have a thermometer, the following symptoms are common of a feline heat stroke:
-Red or pale gums
=Tongue is bright red

If you are concerned that your cat may be suffering from a heatstroke, there are certain procedures that you can try to cool down your kitty before taking them to the veterinarian. Take your cat away from wherever they were getting overheated. If they were near the window, or napping in a sunbeam, simply pick them up and head to the coolest area of your home. Grab a cup of lukewarm water, and begin to wet your cat all over their body, starting with their back and head. Although cats don’t like to get wet, this simple procedure could be saving their life. Don’t use cold water, since this could drop your cat’s temperature too quickly and turn into an even bigger problem. If you have a thermometer, keep checking your cat’s temperature every five minutes. Once their body temperature is below 103, dry the kitty and wrap them in a towel.

Cat FluThe next step is to take your cat to the veterinarian. If your veterinarian has an emergency line, this would be an opportune time to use it. Otherwise, your local emergency veterinary hospital will have to do. Bring your cat to the office, and make sure that they have accessible water at all times. Don’t attempt to force-feed them water, as this could result in choking. Once you get to the veterinarian, they will continue to regulate your cat’s internal temperature. If your cat is truly suffering from a heatstroke or dehydration or both, they will likely be given fluids. The symptoms that come along with heatstroke can also point to a variety of other health ailments which the vet will then test for, including kidney failure, heart abnormalities, and others.

Heatstroke can be fully recovered from. Depending on the severity, you may have to put in effort towards aftercare in order to properly take care of your kitty at home. This may include a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian that is designed to allow more fluids into your cat’s regimen. If a cat has had a heatstroke once, they are more at risk of having another one, so you’ll need to take preventative measures when it is hot and humid out.

Some ways to prevent overheating include:

Providing easily accessible water at all times: It is a good idea to have a water bowl in almost every room of your house, and especially rooms that your cat frequents. You may want to purchase an auto-filling bowl. There are electronic auto-filling bowls and simple ones that just work with gravity. Your cat should never have a hard time getting a drink of water. Make sure that the water bowl is clean at all times and out of direct sunlight.

Allow your cat access to the coolest rooms in your home: Your cat should be able to hang out in the coolest rooms of your home whenever they please. If you only have certain rooms with air conditioning, you may want to invest in a kitty door or re-assess which rooms you keep cool.
Don’t ever leave your cat in a car: One of the most common places for animals to suffer heat strokes is in the car. Cars can reach horribly hot temperatures in no time, and you shouldn’t leave any animal in the car by themselves for any period of time. This could easily send your cat into heat stroke or even kill them.

Protect cats with predisposing conditions: If your cat has heart disease, breathing problems, is obese, or is elderly, you should keep tabs on their whereabouts on hot days at all times.
Make sure your cat has shade: If your cat loves sitting in sunbeams in your home, you may want to consider keeping the blinds shut while you’re out of the house. This will keep out any excess heat from the sun, and will ensure that your cat won’t accidentally fall asleep in an extra hot zone and become overheated.

Cats are very smart and docile and tend to be very good at taking care of themselves, but heat stroke can happen to anyone. Take all signs and symptoms seriously, and don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you feel at all concerned. Cats don’t sweat or pant like other animals, so it is up to you as their owner to make sure that they don’t get overheated on hot days.