Heat Stress And Heat Exhaustion In Cats

heat stressWhether kitty is riding along with you to go to her annual physical, or she’s going shopping with you, pet parents need to be aware of the temperature both outside and inside of a car, because the interior of a car is like a greenhouse. Per Safe Kids USA, it only takes ten minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise twenty degrees, with or without factoring in humidity, even on the mildest days.

You’ve probably heard stories about not leaving pets in a car, not even for a moment. Cats are as susceptible as dogs to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or death from being in a hot car. The temperature for a safe car ride is between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but must be monitored in order to avoid heat stress. You may do so by keeping a thermometer in your car or by purchasing a product such as Too Hot For Spot.

Per Pet MD, initial signs of heat stress include restless behavior, panting, sweaty paws, drooling, and excessive grooming. Signs of heat exhaustion include rapid pulse and breathing, red tongue and mouth, vomiting, and a stumbling and staggering gait. This is just what you can see, because if you were to take your cat’s rectal temperature, it might very well be over one hundred-five degrees Fahrenheit. If the situation isn’t attended to, a cat’s body temperature can increase to the point that she might collapse, have seizures, and go into a coma.

If your cat shows signs of heat stress, but remains conscious, she should be taken to a cool place right away, soaked with cool water and be given plenty of cool water to drink. You should also call her veterinarian. If she’s  unconscious in a hot environment, she should be soaked with cool water (not cold); making sure water doesn’t get in her nose or mouth. You may place a bag of frozen vegetables between your cat’s legs and take her immediately to her veterinarian.


Written by Stephanie Newman

Stephanie Newman

Stephanie is author of the blog, The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady, and a freelance writer whose work regularly appears on Examiner.com. Stephanie’s work has been featured on Catster and in print in Natural Awakenings Pet – east Michigan and the Oakland Press newspaper. She’s a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. and a member of Pet Professionals for Pet Adoption.