Flat-Faced (Brachycephalic) Cats and Hot Weather

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Updated: August 3, 2021

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Brachycephalic flat faced cat

There's a lot of talk in the summer months about the dangers of Heat Stroke in dogs, but 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 Heat Stroke during these warmer days.

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 geriatric 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 Heat Stroke

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 heat stroke 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.

 

Outdoor cat inside heat
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your cats 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.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are debilitating and potentially life-threatening conditions. To learn more, including what to do in the event of heat stroke or exhaustion please read this article.

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