Heat stroke in cats

Heat stroke in cats: how can I cool my cat down in warm weather?

Heat stroke in cats is a bigger threat than you may think. Although our feline friends descend from desert environments, they can still suffer from heat stroke when the heat is sweltering – both inside and out.

Let’s take a closer look at heat stroke in cats, how to spot it and how to keep your cat safe and cool.

Heat exhaustion in cats: a brief outline

In much the same way as humans and dogs, cats can suffer from hyperthermia (high body temperature) when they’re exposed to extreme heat. Like dogs, cats can only sweat out of their noses and the base of their paws; to cool themselves down, they rely mainly on panting, drinking water and resting in shaded areas or on cool surfaces.

If a cat’s body temperature rises and they are unable to cool themselves down, they’ll quickly become distressed. If these conditions persist, the cat will suffer heat exhaustion, which could lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause cats to lose consciousness, or even to have seizures.

Signs of heat stroke in cats

If your cat is distressed because of the heat, they may:

  • Restlessly search for a cool area
  • Have sweaty paws
  • Groom themselves excessively 
  • Pant or drool

As their body temperature rises further, signs of heat exhaustion can include:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Stumbling or staggered movements
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse or seizures (in extreme cases)

How can I cool my cat down if they’re too hot?

Or better still, you could ask: how to keep them cool before their body gets too hot?

Prevent heat stroke in cats by making sure they have access to hydration and a cool environment at all times. Cats will be cats – they’re natural explorers, but it can be a good idea to keep them indoors during hotter parts of the day. Ensure water is readily available, keep the windows open and even think about treating your cat to an ice pack or frozen water bottle to relax on.

My cat has heat stroke – what to do?

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion in cats should be treated as a medical emergency. Move your cat somewhere cool and shaded, preferably an indoor area, and gently apply cool water to their coat. The water shouldn’t be ice cold as this can cause shock. You can also use a mist spray to dampen your cat’s coat, and cooling fans can be helpful (if your cat will tolerate it). Provide plenty of drinking water and let your cat drink as much as they please.

If symptoms persist, contact your local vet or emergency care provider right away. It’s also a good idea to have your cat checked over by a vet after you’ve successfully lowered their body temperature.

Need more info?

If you need more help and advice on keeping your cat cool in the summer, or on preventing heat stroke in cats, have a chat with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.

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