Heatstroke In Cats
Originating from the desert, cats are generally very comfortable in the heat and can often be found stretched out sunbathing.
While more commonly seen in dogs, heatstroke can affect cats, especially if they are trapped in a hot area such as a conservatory, car, flat or greenhouse.
Heatstroke occurs when the body temperature rises to dangerous levels and, because of the environmental conditions, it is impossible for your cat to get rid of excess heat. Unfortunately, this can happen rapidly and can often be fatal. It’s important to know the signs and contact your vet immediately if you think your cat is suffering from heatstroke.
Some of the signs can include panting, drooling, fever, vomiting and collapse.
Yes! White or pale coloured cats are most vulnerable to UV radiation from the sun, especially on their noses and ears, as these areas have less protective fur.
Just like in people, sunburn can lead to skin cancer in cats. Sadly, development of cancer often requires surgery for treatment to remove the affected area. Early detection is the key to managing skin cancers if they develop, so keep a close eye on your cat, and take them to the vet if you spot any skin changes.
You can help minimise the risk of sunburn to your cat in two ways:
- Keep them inside on very sunny days – if your skin would burn, so would theirs. Keeping them inside removes the risk of sunburn.
- Apply cat friendly sunscreen – Just like us, cats can use protective sunscreen to look after their delicate areas. Apply it to the nose and ears especially, but anywhere the fur is thin needs protection. Cats can quickly remove sunscreen by grooming, so it will need to be kept topped up!
If you’re driving with your cat in the car, never leave them alone. Even with the windows partially open, the temperature can rise to 120 degrees on a warm day! This can lead to heatstroke which can be fatal. During a car journey, make sure your cat is in shade. You can use a window shade for them. If the car feels too hot to you during a journey, then it’s also too hot for your cat!
On hot days you need to fill up your pet’s water bowl a lot more frequently. Add a few ice cubes to the water to make it extra cool and tempting. Put their water bowl in a quiet, cooler area out of direct sunlight. Some cats also like to drink from novel places so it might be worth considering a water fountain or multiple water bowls dotted around the house.
Brush your cat’s fur regularly as a tangle free coat will help keep them cooler. The Groom Room at Pets at Home have plenty advice on grooming your cat here.