Heatstroke in older cats

As temperatures rise this summer, pet owners should be aware of the risk of heatstroke in their animals. Heatstroke doesn’t occur as frequently in cats as it does in dogs, but it is still a risk. Any cat may be affected, but cats that are overweight, have flat faces, thick coats or heart problems may be more at risk of developing heatstroke. Young and old animals are also less capable of regulating their body temperatures.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a dangerous condition in which a cat’s body temperature rises above the normal range resulting in heat injury to the body tissues. This can cause many medical problems including kidney and liver failure, abnormal blood clotting and heart problems. If the animal does not receive veterinary treatment promptly then it can result in death. Cats can get heatstroke on hot days when they do not have access to shade, drinking water or a means to keep themselves cool. This can happen if your cat gets stuck in a shed or a hot room with no ventilation or water.

Signs of heatstroke in cats can be more subtle than in dogs and can include:

  • Panting (panting is something that cats don’t normally do and is a sign of distress)
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness or agitation (cats may pace)
  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Muscle tremors
  • Red tongue and gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea

If you think your cat could have heatstroke then this is a medical emergency, and you should seek veterinary help immediately.

Heatstroke in older cats

The veterinary experts at Joii have some hot tips to help keep your cat cool and hydrated this summer:

Never leave your cat in a car, conservatory, or hot room

Even with open windows these places will act like an oven and your cat will quickly overheat.

Plenty of shade

Make sure that outdoor cats have access to shade, especially kittens or elderly cats that aren’t as mobile. Create comfortable resting places in the shade which your cat will naturally gravitate towards.

Check that your cat doesn’t get trapped

Check regularly for your cat on hot days and make sure that they aren’t trapped in a shed or an enclosed area.


Provide lots of water bowls in the house and garden. Cats often prefer to drink running water such as that from a fountain. Canned food can be fed during the hot days to increase water intake. Dehydration can lead to kidney disease, and cats with kidney disease and heart murmurs should be monitored more carefully in the heat.

Monitor activity

Although older cats tend to be savvier in the sun and know when they’ve had enough, it is still important to keep an eye on their activity just in case they over-exert themselves.


Don’t forget kitty sunscreen! Just like us, our pets can get sunburn and skin cancer. It is important to apply a pet safe sunscreen to sun-sensitive areas of the body such as the groin, belly, ear tips, nose and around the lips, especially for white cats who are more prone to sunburn. The Joii veterinary team can help to advise you on kitty safe products to use.

Cat naps

We all know our feline friends like to sleep – they can sleep for up to 16 hours a day! Just like us, the summer heat will make your kitty more lethargic in the daytime so you might notice them sleeping more in the day. Cats are naturally more active at dawn and dusk, so try to play with them at these times and also in the early evening time to help tire them out so they sleep through the night.

Do you have questions about keeping your cat safe this summer? Give the nursing team at Joii a call who are more than happy to help.

Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


Need cat insurance?

Cat insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your cat gets injured or falls ill.


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