Cat’s are especially prone to heat stroke because like dogs, they lack the ability to cool their body through body sweat. They do sweat through their paws, but the surface area of a cats paws is too small to provide much cooling. As a result, cats tend to laze around when it hot, sprawling in cool areas trying to get as much of their body pressed against a cool surface like tiles. Even when its not hot, cats tend to only engage in short bursts of activity which prevents them overheating.
In the wild, Lions tend to avoid all activity during the peak of the day whereas cheetahs have evolved to be especially heat resistant, the theory being that cheetahs that were able to hunt in the middle of the day when the other large cats were resting were more likely to survive and passed on this heat resistance to their offspring.
Domestic cats are not cheetahs however, and though they are not lion like in size, they are lion like in the their low tolerance to high levels of activity during hot conditions.
Long haired cats with their greater insulation are of course more prone to suffering heat stress than short haired cats. Dangerous places are
1. In the car(a car left in the sun with the windows up can quickly reach 60+ degrees inside.)
2. In a cat carrier as they usually lack sufficient air flow to ensure your cat can stay cool.
3. Locked inside a room on a summer’s day, windows shut, with sun on the windows.
4. Outside on a hot day, with insufficient shade or water.
If your cat is suffering from heat stroke, likely they will be panting, emitting at “hawing” noise like a smoker.Heat stroke can quickly go from distressing to fatal, so you need to be aware of the signs early on.
1. Never leave your cat in a car, even for a few minutes. Cracking a window open? Is not going to keep them cool enough.
2. Always ensure they have plenty of water.
3. Long periods in a cat carrier should be avoided. If you are going on a long drive, take a harness and a leash and let your cat out for walks along the way. Ensure during these rests breaks your puss has plenty to drink.
4. Cat carriers should always be kept in the shade, even in the car with the air conditioning on. The sun coming through the windows can overheat the cat carrier, which will no cool properly inside from car air conditioning due to the lack of airflow.
If your cat does suffer from heat stroke a trip to the vet is likely necessary to minimise damage to their internal organs