If the last few weeks are anything to go by, when the Sun’s out it gets hot. Unlike us humans who can sweat through our skin, cats can only sweat through their foot pads. If this can’t take place then heatstroke sets in, leading to exhaustion, organ failure and even death.
Typically, a cat won’t put its paw up and tell you there’s something wrong, so how do you spot the signs of it?
Knowing the symptoms:
Knowing your cat’s behaviour is the key to diagnosing them quickly. If you find your cat wandering the house, hiding in a dark place or being generally restless, it can mean that there is something wrong with them. Noticing these changes in your cat’s personality is key to preventing and dealing with heatstroke:
- Restless behaviour as your cat tries to find a cool spot.
- Panting, sweaty feet, drooling, excessive grooming.
- Rectal temperature is normal to slightly elevated.
More severe symptoms include:
- Rapid pulse and breathing.
- Stumbling, staggering.
If you think your cat has heatstroke, call your Vet and relay their symptoms to them. Then, you best start getting ready for a journey!
What Can I do Until I Get to the Vets?:
The only thing you can do until a professional can see them is to gradually cool them down. A sudden or severe change in their body temperature can force your pet’s body into a state of shock; a fate much worse than heatstroke.
To begin with, soak your pet with cool (not cold, but lukewarm) water, being careful to keep the water out of their nose and mouth. Hover or hold a bag of frozen vegetables or ice around or near their core. If nothing else, try and move your pet to a cool or shaded area, at least until you can get the car started or other travel arrangements organised.
Once you get your pet to one of our clinics, we’ll start by attempting to cool them down using some of the methods listed above. In more severe cases, we’ll insert an intravenous (IV) line to run cool fluids directly into your pet. This not only helps to lower your cat’s temperature, but will help to counteract the effects of shock and minimise the risk of organ damage which can be brought on by high body temperatures.
Your pet’s temperature will be monitored frequently until their core temperature begins to fall. Once it has fallen sufficiently, our cooling attempts will gradually slow to prevent excessive cooling. Finally, we’ll want to keep your pet until their temperature is stable and at least until they can be evaluated for signs of organ damage.
Once we’re happy that there’s no signs of lasting damage, you and your pet can be on your way. However, we do ask that you keep a close eye on your pet as some organ damage might develop a few days after we’ve treated your cat for Heatstroke.
By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce or even eliminate the risk of your cat getting heatstroke; things like ensuring that they have access to fresh, clean drinking water at all times, making sure they have somewhere shaded to hang out and being generally vigilant to the symptoms and signs of heatstroke.
If you do find yourself in the middle of an emergency you really shouldn’t be reading this! Click here for our emergency contact list. Otherwise, call 01 8213189 for our Meath and North Dublin clinic, or 01 2987510 for our South Dublin clinic.3