Hyperthermia is the elevation of body temperature to limits that endanger the life of the cat. This is what happens in heat stroke, which tends to occur more frequently in months with higher temperatures.
Heat stroke is undoubtedly a very serious emergency. Avoiding it is very simple if we follow a series of simple tips that we leave you below.
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What is a heat stroke?
To understand why heat stroke occurs in cats, the first thing to consider is the way in which these animals thermoregulate. Most cats, except those that lack hair, do not sweat all over their skin, but only because of the sweat glands that are located in certain parts of their body.
They are the pads of the paws, the chin, the anal region and the lips. But cats have other ways to cool themselves, such as self-grooming. When they pass their tongue over their fur, they deposit saliva that, when evaporating, refreshes them . Finally, like dogs, panting is another way they have to lower their temperature.
Panting allows warm air to escape from the body. But, when the temperature of the external environment is practically the same as that of the body, thermoregulation may not be effective enough, especially if this situation is prolonged. In that case, there is a risk that the cat will experience heat stroke.
When does heatstroke occur?
In addition to, obviously, in times of high temperatures, there are other risk factors in which the cat will need to activate its thermoregulation mechanism. If you can’t, there is a risk of heat stroke. They are as follows:
- Intense physical exercise.
What cats can suffer from heat stroke?
In addition to the aforementioned risk factors, which directly affect thermoregulation, some cats will be more prone to heat stroke . This does not mean that other types of cats cannot be affected, so extreme precautions must be taken with everyone. The cats most at risk are the following:
- Older cats.
- Sick cats.
- Snub-nosed specimens like those of the Persian breed. Due to their particular anatomy, these cats find it more difficult to breathe and cool off.
- Cats with considerable obesity or overweight.
Symptoms of heat stroke in cats
These are the main symptoms of heat stroke, which should put you on alert and prompt you to call your vet immediately:
- High temperature, 42 ºC or even higher.
- Very pronounced and intense panting.
- Fast or labored breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Soft spot.
- Lack of coordination.
- Gums and skin bluish in color. It is cyanosis and it is due to the lack of oxygen, as the cat breathes poorly and does not get enough.
What do I do if my cat suffers from heat stroke?
First of all, we must remove it from any source of heat, such as the sun or heating. Then we must try to refresh it and call our veterinarian to confirm the guidelines to follow before going to visit him. Needless to say, a visit to the vet will be a must.
- Move him to a cool, shady place to prevent his body temperature from continuing to rise.
- Go to a veterinary center as soon as possible.
- On the way, if you have one, you can use the air conditioning. Failing that, a fan serves. It is about gradually lowering the cat’s temperature, since a sharp drop is also dangerous. It is called hypotherma and can be life-threatening.
- Spray it with cool water or splash it with your hand if you are startled by the noise of the spray.
- A towel soaked in cold water can also be passed over the body.
- In milder cases, when the cat is conscious and not vomiting, we can encourage it to drink.
- Even if we manage to stabilize it and it seems recovered, we must also go to the vet to verify its condition.
Can heatstroke be prevented?
Obviously yes and also, it is much better to be safe than sorry. That is why we recommend you to follow these simple, very practical and healthy tips for your kitten:
- The cat should always have a cool, shady place where it can take shelter in the hottest hours.
- It is essential that you have clean and fresh water at all times.
- If the cat is one of those who drink a small amount, we can encourage it by using cat water fountains. The constantly moving water encourages them to drink.
- Another option to keep him hydrated is to give him wet food, following the veterinarian’s recommendations.
- Do not play intensely with him in the sun or let him do it alone.
- Obesity must be prevented, as it is a risk factor. If our cat is fat, it is never too late to reduce and control its weight, always following the veterinarian’s instructions.
- On hotter days it is better to offer food at dawn or dusk, avoiding digestion coinciding with the hours of higher temperatures.
- Of course, never leave the cat confined in confined and poorly ventilated spaces, such as a vehicle. A car in the sun in a very short time reaches very high temperatures, with the consequent risk of heat stroke.