Cats are very susceptible to heatstroke in excessive heat conditions due to their small body weight and comparatively high surface area.
Heatstroke is a fever brought on by the failure of the body’s normal temperature regulation system due to being in overly high temperatures. The most common cause of heatstroke is being left in a hot, poorly ventilated area, usually a car or a hot room. Do not leave a cat in a car during the heat of summer without ventilation and in the baking sun, and never leave a cat in a car, unattended.
Avoid heatstroke conditions
For long journeys in the car (if you are moving house, etc.), keep the air conditioning on, or the windows open, for ventilation while travelling, and don’t cover up the cat carrier in any way that impedes air flow through the cat carrier’s holes. It is a good idea to include a towel- or sock-wrapped ice-pack in with the carrier to help keep him cool. If you must stop briefly, park in the shade, roll down the windows completely and do not leave the cat unattended.
If you need to make a brief toilet-stop or rest-break, set the carrier down under a tree, on grass, when you stop during journeys and have everyone keep an eye on him, as well as giving him some water.
The symptoms of heatstroke in a cat include agitation, extreme distress, stretching out and panting heavily, skin hot to the touch, vomiting, glazed eyes, drooling and staggering. Untreated, the cat will collapse into a coma and die.
If you see any of these signs, get to the veterinary clinic immediately. If you need to treat your cat quickly before going to the vet, act fast: If he’s mildly affected, get him to a cool indoor environment with a constant flow of cool air, and keep him calm. If he’s severely affected, use a fine misting spray from a hose or sprayer, or pour bowls of water over him with care.
Wrap him with wet towels except for the nose and mouth and keep adding cold water or ice packs and get him to the vet. In particular, the head must be kept cool and wet because heatstroke can “cook” the brain and cause brain death. However, do not immerse the cat in cold water.
Offer small amounts of water only once the cat is conscious and has cooled down; never give liquid to an unconscious animal.
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