Flat-Faced (Brachycephalic) Cats and Hot Weather

Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas

Published: August 1, 2014

Updated: April 6, 2022

Our mission is to help save dogs' and cats’ lives through our educational content. To support our efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission for qualifying purchases – at no cost to you.

brachycephalic cat sleeping on couch-pix

There's a lot of talk in the summer months about the dangers of heatstroke in dogs.

As a cat person, you may be wondering whether or not the heat can affect your cat in the same way.

The short answer is yes.

Though it happens less frequently, cats can also suffer from heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke during these warmer days.

Factors That Affect Cats and Heat-Related Illness

Aside from a hot or humid day, these factors can also increase a cat’s risk of suffering from heat-related illness:

  • Flat-faced conformation: Persians, Himalayans, Exotic Shorthairs, Scottish Folds, as well as snub-nosed mixes of these breeds

  • Age: Kittens and senior cats are at increased risk

  • Medical conditions – Heart and/or breathing conditions, including feline asthma or bronchitis

  • Excess Weight: Fat cells serve as increased insulation that, while beneficial in the cold, have the opposite effect when temperatures rise. Additionally, overweight cats generate more heat from even mild exercise.

How to Recognize the Signs of Heatstroke in Cats

Unfortunately, cats can be very good at hiding health problems. If you notice your cat exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms, it could be an indication they are suffering from heatstroke or some other condition that warrants medical evaluation.

  • Panting
  • Sweaty feet (cats sweat through glands in their paws)
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling or thick/sticky saliva
  • Bright red tongue, mouth
  • Rectal temperature above 105ºF (normal temperature should be 103ºF)

There are many reasons why cats may pant, but if they're over-heating, it may look like this. 

This cat is most likely panting from over-heating and the stress of being in the car.


Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Cat from Heat-Related Illness

  • Keep your cat inside during the warmest parts of the day.
  • Ensure that your cat always have easy access to plenty of fresh, cool drinking water.
  • If you don’t already feed canned food, consider adding some to your cat’s meals during the warmer days of the year.
  • Add some tuna water to your cat’s water dishes to encourage more drinking.
  • If your cat has a crusty, runny nose work, with your veterinarian to treat the underlying cause, and be sure to pay attention to nursing care, including keeping your cat’s nostrils clean and clear by wiping frequently with a damp tissue or gauze.
  • If your cat has a predisposing medical condition (e.g., heart disease, “feline asthma,” etc.), work with your veterinarian or an appropriate veterinary specialist to achieve a cure or the best management.


Outdoor cat inside heat

About the author

Profile picture for Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Nicholas graduated with honors from The Royal Veterinary College in London, England and completed his Internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Nicholas spent many years as an emergency and general practice veterinarian obsessed with keeping pets safe and healthy. He is the author of Preventive Vet’s 101 Essential Tips book series.

Must-have digital books for dog and cat owners