Signs of heat stroke in cats
Cats are experts at hiding signs of disease, so you might not notice your cat overheated until the situation becomes serious. The following symptoms indicate that your cat is overheated and possibly having heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- Body temperature of 104 degrees or more
- Rapid breathing, panting, or respiratory distress
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Dizziness and/or disorientation
- Dark red gums and tongue
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sweaty paws
- Drooling with thick saliva due to dehydration
- Tremors or seizures
Causes of heat stroke
Cats cannot regulate their body temperature as well as humans. The human body is able to sweat and cool in response to the hot environment. Dogs may gasp to cool down to a certain point, although this process is not as effective at cooling them down in the heat. Cats don’t sweat to cool themselves off and usually don’t pant until they’re already in danger. To stay cool, cats tend to go to cooler places such as tiled floors, sinks, or bathtubs. Self-care can imitate sweating and provide some cooling. Cat dander offers some protection from the heat, but this only works to a certain extent. If a cat gets into a dangerously hot situation, the body cannot cool down quickly enough to prevent overheating.
Most cats instinctively move to cooler places as soon as they feel too warm. Most of them are able to cool down before approaching heat exhaustion. However, a cat can get trapped in a hot place, such as a greenhouse, garage, shed, car, and even a clothes dryer. These are, unfortunately, some of the most common causes of heat stroke in cats.
Kittens, seniors and sick cats are more prone to heat stroke because they are even less able to regulate their temperature than healthy adult cats. In addition, short-nosed cats such as Persians often have damaged airways and are more sensitive to heat. Overweight and obese cats are also more prone to overheating. It is important that high-risk cats stay in temperature-controlled rooms.