Heat Stroke in Cats: Know the Signs


Even though heatstroke is more common in dogs than in cats, cats can get it, and it is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Signs of heat stroke

  • Panting or rapid breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Excessive grooming
  • Sweaty paws
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling
  • Unresponsiveness
  • High fever
  • Collapse
  • Extreme lethargy

What to do if your cat has heat stroke

Prompt treatment is of the essence – get your cat to a veterinarian immediately if you think she has heat stroke. While transporting the cat you can

  • Cover her with towels soaked in cold water
  • If your cat is conscious, try to get her to drink some cold water. You can use a syringe if possible.
  • Never use ice packs or immerse your cat in ice cold water to reduce body temperature, as this can cause shock.

How to prevent heat stroke

The best way to prevent heat stroke is to keep your cats inside. If your cat does go outside, make sure she has access to plenty of fresh, cold water, and shady areas. But even indoor cats may suffer from heat exhaustion on really hot days, especially in homes without air conditioning.

For more on how to prevent heat stroke and keep your cats comfortable in hot weather, read Keep Your Cat Cool This Summer

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

11 Comments on Heat Stroke in Cats: Know the Signs

  1. Toni
    August 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm (8 years ago)

    Thank you Jackson. I’ve always wondered about cats sleeping in the sun. I’ve don’t let my kitties snooze in the sun for long on the balcony during the heat of the day, especially the older ones. Always wondered if I was worrying unnecessarily. Guess not.

  2. Jennifer
    August 21, 2013 at 10:04 am (8 years ago)

    My cat had it once. He snuck out of the house and spent about an hour on a hot patio. Very scary. We put cool wet towels on him, cranked up the a/c, he was drinking tons of water and then after about an hour, he was fine. Thank goodness! He used up one of his lives that day. Miss him dearly as he passed away two years. RIP Lee

  3. Cathy
    August 21, 2013 at 9:24 am (8 years ago)

    I had a cat go into heat stroke from laying on an ELECTRIC BLANKET!. Do not use them around cats, the blanket went in the garbage after that.

    • Ingrid
      August 21, 2013 at 9:38 am (8 years ago)

      I hope your cat was okay, Cathy. You’re absolutely right, electric blankets should never be used with cats.

      • Cathy
        August 21, 2013 at 9:44 am (8 years ago)

        yes, I took her outside where it was cool and she came to. She was unconscious and panting and drooling. Scared the life out of me.

  4. The Island Cats
    July 15, 2013 at 9:27 pm (8 years ago)

    This is good information. We are inside cats, so hopefully we’ll never get heat stroke, but you never know.

  5. Amelia Hughes
    July 15, 2013 at 1:19 pm (8 years ago)

    Thank you for this post and reminding people to look out for cats too! It’s supposed to reach near 100 degrees here in Boston this week. All our cats are blessed to be indoors and have air conditioning. This information will be helpful to people looking out for cats (including the folks I work with in rescue) to help cats that don’t!

  6. Sue Brandes
    July 15, 2013 at 11:48 am (8 years ago)

    Thank you for the information. Good to know. We have air here but; you never know. I vote daily for you.

    • Ingrid
      July 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you for voting, Sue!

  7. Caren Gittleman
    July 15, 2013 at 8:07 am (8 years ago)

    we just posted a great infographic from Petfinder last week about this same and most important subject.
    Today we are supposed to be into the 90s (all week in fact), the weather is sooooooooo “close” outside. Cody was due to go to the vet for his vaccine today but the heat is one of the reasons that I canceled and am rescheduling for when it is cooler out.
    Granted he would have been in an air conditioned car, but I have a blanket in his carrier and I didn’t want him to be too warm while waiting for the car to cool off.

    • Ingrid
      July 15, 2013 at 11:45 am (8 years ago)

      I bet Cody is really happy that it’s so hot out today….. 🙂


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