feline hyperthermia

Feline Hyperthermia | 2 cats sitting outside in the summer
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jul 21 2014

I was watching my cat with envy the other day as she lazily stretched out on the warm part of the floor where the sun was streaming in, thinking to myself how easy it must be to be a cat in this house. But then I got to thinking - why in the world would she want to lay in the hot sun, and why is she not getting too hot?

Heatstroke in cats

Both of my cats are indoor cats, but you can see the same behavior in outdoor cats, too. They’ll happily find the sunniest spot on the porch to nap, even in extreme heat. We talked about heatstroke in pets but focused mainly on dogs. Heatstroke can occur in cats, but it is rare. Thank goodness, or we’d be in a world of hurt with all of these lazy, sun-loving cats!

What to look out for

Just like in dogs, obese cats are more prone to overheating, so these are the ones that you’ll want to keep a closer eye on during extremely hot days. There are other heat related situations that can potentially use up one of your feline’s nine lives, though. Knowing that cats seek out the warm spots, it may not be a surprise to hear that cats often jump into the clothes dryer, especially if contains warm, freshly dried clothes. This is enough to overheat your kitty, but an even more dangerous event may follow. I know it sounds crazy, but cats can go undetected in the dryer before it is started, leading to a potentially life threatening (not to mention very scary) wild ride. Check your dryer before you start it, especially in the coming winter months when cats are even more likely to seek warmth.

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Confinement in hot places is another potential reason for heat stroke in cats. Cats who visit the groomer are often placed in a drying cage to dry. This is usually very safe, but can rarely cause overheating due to dryer malfunction or an underlying illness in your cat. I probably don’t need to say this again, but I’ll say it anyway: NEVER leave your pet unattended in your car in warm months, no matter how cool you think it feels outside. Cars rapidly overheat, and cracking a window just won’t cut it.


If you think your cat may be having a heat stroke, as evidenced by panting or other respiratory distress, get to your veterinarian’s office as soon as you can. Trying to cool your cat with cool water or ice packs will be counterproductive and can actually slow cooling. Prevent this kitty crisis by making sure there is shade and water for outdoor cats, and always be on the lookout for potential problems from your curious indoor kitty.

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