Heat Stroke in cats, Risk factors for heat stroke, how to treat heat stroke, animal speicialty hospital in Beaverton Oregon

From From CatsLoveCardboard and Preventative Vet

Cats tend to be smarter (or more concerned) than dogs about their own comfort, and they do a better job of seeking out cooler areas when they need to.

With that said, cats can still suffer from heat stroke. Unlike typical cases involving dogs, cats are more likely to get heat stroke in the following situations:

  • Becoming trapped in a clothes dryer (this is not an infrequent occurrence)

  • An outdoor cat getting trapped in a shed or other “oven-type” structure during a hot period

  • A cat left confined without ready access to water and shade

  • A cat left in a hot car for a prolonged period of time (as might happen during a long distance drive for a move or trip)

Risk Factors for Heat Stroke in Cats

As temperatures warm and the humidity rises, the chances for heat stroke increase. But your cat’s risk of heat stroke is not limited to the climate in your area or your cat’s environment (such as indoor vs. outdoor). There are also pet-specific predisposing factors that can increase the risk.

The following characteristics can place your cat at increased risk for suffering from heat-related illnesses. Be sure to work with your veterinary team to best manage your cat’s risk of suffering heat stroke.

Any cat can develop heatstroke however some are at greater risk:

  • Brachycephalic breeds with short faces such as British Shorthair, Persians, Himalayans, Scottish Fold and Exotic Shorthair
  • Old cats
  • Very young cats
  • Sick cats
  • Obese cats
  • Cats with heart conditions
  • Cats with medical conditions which affect breathing
  • Pregnant and nursing queens
  • Age: Because of their relative inability to regulate their own body temperature, very young and very old cats are at increased risk of developing heat stroke.
  • Weight: Pets who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop heat stroke. Fat cells serve as increased insulation that, while beneficial in the cold, have the opposite effect when temperatures rise. Additionally, overweight cats generate more heat from even mild exercise. Speak with your veterinarian about your cat’s weight, or check out this guide to determine whether your cat is too heavy.
  • Breed: Because of the overall structure of their respiratory system, brachycephalic (snub-nosed or flat-faced) cats are very much at increased risk for suffering from heat stroke. At risk cat breeds include Persian, Himalayan, British Shorthair, and Scottish Fold, as well as snub-nosed mixes of these breeds.
  • Existing Medical Conditions: Cats with pre-existing medical conditions like chronic kidney disease, bronchitis or asthma, and heart disease requiring lasix (or another diuretic, commonly known as “water pills”) administration.
  • Coat: Cats with thicker, darker-colored coats may be at increased risk of suffering from heat stroke compared to those with thinner, lighter-colored coats. Such coats provide more insulation and heat-absorption.

Spotting heatstroke

Medically known as hyperthermia, heatstroke is a life-threatening medical condition in which your cat’s internal organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain) begin to shut down as a result of elevated body temperature caused by high temperatures and humidity.

Symptoms of heatstroke in cats can include:

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Dark red gums
  • Salivating (drooling)
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting (possibly with blood)
  • Diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
  • Bleeding from the nose

If you notice any of the above symptoms call your vet immediately for advice.

The tips outlined above should help to prevent heatstroke but early warning signs are panting and licking. If you notice your cat doing this during hot weather, move them to a cool area immediately and implement the damp cloth technique to help them cool off. A fan can also help speed up the cooling off process.

In severe cases of heatstroke, the cat may already be unconscious or unable to move, if this is the case they need immediate medical attention.

What NOT to Do for Heat Stroke in Cats

  • Do NOT force your cat to drink water or pour water into their mouth.
  • Do NOT use ice or extremely cold water, including ice packs.
  • Do NOT submerge them in water.
  • Do NOT cool off your pet too fast.
  • Do NOT skip the trip to the vet. Temperatures can spike again, and there may be damage to internal organs.

How to Minimize Heat Stroke Risk in Cats

  • Make sure you see your cat every day, to ensure (among other things) they’re not trapped in a shed or elsewhere.
  • Ensure that your cat always has easy access to plenty of fresh, cool drinking water.
  • Feed canned food. If you don’t already do so, consider adding some canned food to your cat’s meals during the warmer days of the year.
  • Add some tuna water to your cat’s water dishes to encourage more drinking.


Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital (OVSH) has been serving the Portland and Beaverton area community since 1979. Dr. Robert T. Franklin (Internal medicine) welcomes referrals from veterinarians all over the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help your pet regain health and live a long and happy life.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital

9339 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy,
Beaverton, OR 97005.

Phone: 503.292.3001
Fax: 503.292.6808