July 13, 2010

Understanding Heat Stroke in Cats

Filed under: Heat Stroke — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:10 pm

With the summer season well underway, pet owners need to be extra vigilant about protecting their beloved animals from heat-related illnesses.  Just like in humans or other animals, heat stroke is a condition that occurs when your cat’s body absorbs or produces more heat than it expels.  Because they only sweat through their paws or panting, cats are not well suited for the heat and heat stroke in cats constitutes a medical emergency.

The symptoms of heat stroke in cats include:

  • Excessive salivation with especially thick saliva
  • Excessive panting
  • Dark red or pale gums
  • A bright red tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive grooming
  • Unconsciousness

The problem with heat stroke is that as your cat’s body temperature increases its internal organs and body systems begin shutting down.  Once your cat’s rectal temperature reaches 108.5°F, irreversible damage may occur and death becomes a very real possibility.

Clearly, heat stroke in cats is a very serious condition that should never be taken lightly.  The normal body temperature of a cat is between 100.5 and 102.5°F (or 38.2 to 39.2°C) and if the outside temperature exceeds this, heat stroke is a risk for cats.

There are many things a pet owner can do to prevent heat stroke in cats.  First of all, never under any circumstances, leave your cat in a parked car.  Within 30 minutes your car’s temperature can exceed 120°F in the summer making it a very dangerous environment for pets.  Also, ensure that your cat has adequate access to cool drinking water, shade, and the outdoors.  Most veterinarians also recommend that your cat avoids strenuous exercise during hot days and that you limit exposure to the sun in the middle of the afternoon.  While heat stroke is a serious and dangerous condition, it is also entirely preventable so make sure to take the necessary steps to protect your cat.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.