Posted by Susan Dickson on July 12, 2014
It’s that time again! Summer is here and temperatures are rising which means that we start looking for ways to beat the heat. We wear shorts, go swimming and drink plenty of pure water to stay hydrated. But what about your cat? Kitty can’t take off his fur coat and because of this can be susceptible to heat stroke just as much as humans Cats, however, are masters of looking the cool cucumber, so how can you tell if your cat is suffering from the heat? While their coat can regulate their body temperature through most median temperatures, it is important to know the signs of hyperthermia, or heat stroke. The most obvious is panting. Cat’s don’t normally pant, so when you see this behaviour you know that your cat is definitely having a hard time with the heat. Another sign is anxiety, often demonstrated through pacing as they hunt for a cool place to lay down. Increased heart rate, drooling, excessive grooming, and increased internal body temperature. Dark red gums, lethargy, vomiting, staggering around and hyperventilation or respiratory distress are other more serious symptoms. (Breeds with flat noses may exhibit respiratory distress earlier because of compromised airways.) If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms it is best to take you cat to the vet in order to help your cat regulate his body temperature and prevent organ damage. Before you go though, there are a few things you can do to ease his distress: soak him in cool water (not cold) to bring his temperature down. This is especially necessary if your cat is found unconscious. Use a bag of frozen peas or ice to put between his legs and take him to the vet immediately. You want to prevent your cat from having seizures or slipping into a coma and the vet can administer IV fluids to assist your cat to recover. If your cat has not exhibited any of the more alarming symptoms you can help regulate his temperature and prevent heat stroke in several ways. Cats sweat through their feet, so if you cannot take him to a cooler environment, it is important to give your cat options for cooling himself off. Employ the bag of frozen peas or ice wrapped in a towel in his favourite sleeping spot. If he is hot he will make use of this to cool down. Soak his feet in a tub of cool water. And of course, provide plenty of fresh cool water; if you do not have the benefit of a cat fountain, place several bowls of cool water around the home and it doesn’t hurt to put ice cubes in the water to keep it cool. This may pique kitty’s interest in drinking. You can immerse his feet in a tub of cool water, rub him down with a damp towel or use a cool compress around his neck. He may resist, but may also appreciate it in the hottest part of the day.
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