Heatstroke in cats is a dangerous thing, especially during the hot summer months. Here’s how to keep your cat cool and healthy in a heatwave.
Is everyone ready for summer? I know I am!
Summer is the time for swimsuits, lemonade and copious amounts of sunshine. It’s also the season for heatstroke in cats and other pets who can’t strip down to a bikini.
How Do Cats Get Heatstroke?
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is when a cat’s body temperature rises to unhealthy levels, causing stress on the body. This can occur in hot weather or when a cat is in an overly hot environment. Heatstroke can happen either indoors or outdoors, regardless of the amount of fur a cat has.
Cats don’t sweat (except through their paws). That means they can’t get rid of heat the same way humans do. It takes a cat much longer to cool down in hot temps, so you need to watch for signs of heatstroke/heat exhaustion.
Symptoms Of Heatstroke
Heatstroke in cats can manifest itself in many ways, including (but not limited to):
- Sweaty paws
- Restlessness and pacing
What To Do If Your Cat Suffers From Heatstroke
Cats can suffer from heatstroke and remain conscious, but if your cat is found unconscious in the heat, PetMD advises cat parents to “soak him with cool (not cold) water, being careful to keep the water out of the nose and mouth. Place a bag of ice or frozen veggies between the legs and get your cat to the veterinarian immediately (emphasis added).”
If your cat is still conscious but displaying symptoms of heatstroke, soak him or her in cool water and then give them water to drink. Let them drink as much as they want to, then head to the vet. Whether conscious or unconscious, you need to take them to your veterinarian after soaking them in cool water. Heatstroke can cause organ damage, as well as other unseen damage to your cat’s system. If left uncared for, your cat can suffer side effects and develop other health issues.
5 Ways To Keep Your Cat Cool In The Summer Heat
Preventing heatstroke in cats is easy. All you need to do is give your cat a little TLC, and they’ll have a safe, fun and healthy summer.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Provide your cat with plenty of fresh drinking water during summer to promote hydration and wellness. I like to put a couple of ice cubes in my cats’ water fountain to keep the water cool. I usually have to do this a couple of times a day in hot weather.
You should also keep a careful eye on the bowl/fountain water level; water evaporates quickly in a heatwave. Thankfully, our Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain has a reservoir that holds an extra half-gallon of water. I don’t have to refill it nearly as much!
Throw Some Shade
Close the curtains. Not only does this provide plenty of shade for you and your kitty, but it also helps you save on energy bills. Your air-conditioner won’t have to kick on as much without the sun rays heating up your home. You can also invest in thermal curtains that go the extra mile; they keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter!
If you can’t close the curtains, make sure your cat has access to the basement or a cool place to get out of the sun. Consider an elevated pet bed; air can flow underneath, keeping your cat cool while still letting them have a good snooze.
Duh, it’s hot outside. Your cat can’t tolerate summer heat any better than you can, so keep them indoors. Even outdoor cats should be brought in when the temperature becomes intolerable. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.
Never, and I mean NEVER, leave your cat in a hot car. A minute… an hour… doesn’t matter. Heatstroke can happen very quickly. Try sitting in your car without air conditioner and see how long you last. Now try it while being covered in fur. Too hot? You bet it is! If you can’t bring them in the store with you, leave them at home.
Take time to relax. Playtime with your cat needs to wait until a cooler time of the day. Remember – cats only sweat through their paws! Running around isn’t what your cat needs when it’s 90°F outside.
Catster suggests filling a plastic water bottle mostly full with cold water and freezing it overnight:
“…wrap the bottle in a towel and put it in your cat’s favorite lounging spot. If she gets overheated, she’ll appreciate the kitty cooling room. Don’t fill the bottle to the top (emphasis added): Water expands when it freezes, and you could have a mess on your hands if you don’t leave some air space.”
Time For A Haircut!
Short-haired cats can most likely survive the summer heat without a shave, but long-haired breeds are a different story. A trim may be just what your cat needs to stay cool this summer. Heatstroke in cats can be avoided by having a licensed professional shave off a cat’s winter coat.
Cats will naturally shed more during the warmer months, so a haircut can help with this as well as hairballs. Ask your vet whether or not a haircut is right for your cat. Some cats do well, while others may not, so be sure to talk to your vet first.