What to Do If Your Cat Has Heat Exhaustion

As a cat owner, you try your hardest to protect your pet from conditions like heat exhaustion. But there are occasions when accidents happen. Perhaps your cat got locked in the non air-conditioned garage, or perhaps you forgot to turn the air conditioning on before you left home—and now he or she is showing signs of heat exhaustion. Here's what to do.

Move the cat to a cool environment.

Take your cat into an air-conditioned room. If you don't have air conditioning, at least turn on a fan in the room so the cool air can flow over your cat.

Call the emergency vet clinic.

Most cats with heat exhaustion will need IV fluids in order to recover. So it is essential that you take the cat to a vet, such as one at Phoenixville Animal Hospital - R B Wolstenholme DVM. If it's the middle of the day and you know your ordinary vet's office is open, call them and see whether you can take your cat in for an emergency visit. If it's after hours, you'll need to call the closest emergency clinic in your area. Calling ahead ensures the personnel are prepared to treat your cat as soon as you walk in the door.

Be prepared to tell the vet what symptoms your cat is experiencing. Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, vomiting, lethargy, staggering, and redness of the mouth and gums.

Cool the cat down.

Before you rush off to the emergency clinic, take just a few minutes to start cooling your cat off. This may save his or her life if the cat's temperature is too high. If the cat is unconscious, soak their body with cool (not cold) water. If the cat is still conscious and will not allow you to wet their body, try to at least apply cool compresses, like bags of frozen veggies, to your cat's chest. Offer the cat some cool water to drink, and let them drink as much as they want.

Take the cat to the clinic.

Turn the air conditioning on in your car, and load the cat into a cat carrier. Drive to the emergency clinic. Depending on the severity of your cat's heat exhaustion, your vet may:

  • Administer an IV to bring your cat's fluid levels back up to a safe level and to lower their body temperature
  • Give medications to help prevent the organ damage that can occur at high body temperatures

As long as your cat receives prompt treatment, they should make a full recovery. 

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