How Hot is Too Hot for Cats?

Can cats handle hot weather? The challenge is that they cannot tell when the heat is too much. It is important that cat owners know how hot is too hot for cats to avoid life-threatening conditions.

How Hot Is Too Hot for Cats?

Temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit can be too hot for most cats. Heat stroke can happen when temperatures rise to 105 degrees, particularly for old cats, cats with thick fur coats, or cats with medical conditions.

Whether you live in a place with high humidity or you like taking your cat outdoors, it’s essential that you understand what temperature is too hot for cats, so you’ll know how to keep your pet safe and healthy.

Determining how hot is too hot for cats

What Temperature Is Too Hot For Cats?

Outdoor temperatures that exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit are considered too hot, even for a healthy cat. Meanwhile, an indoor temperature above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can cause heat exhaustion in the average cat.

A good rule of thumb is that if your body feels hot, it’s highly likely that your cat feels hot as well.

How Does Heat and Humidity Affect Cats?

A cat’s natural responses to heat will only be as effective if the environment is too humid or dry. Too much moisture in the air can quickly evaporate sweat, preventing your cat from cooling down.

Wet-bulb temperature refers to the index that measures heat and humidity. Humans can tolerate a maximum wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the wet-bulb temperature hits 90 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet may need immediate cooling.

Can Cats Overheat in Hot Weather?

A cat can overheat in high temperatures if it doesn’t regulate its body temperature immediately. A healthy cat can generally be okay in hot weather. However, hyperthermia is heat stress that occurs when a cat exceeds its normal temperature too much.

When left unmanaged, this condition could escalate to heat stroke. Both conditions are fatal and need immediate attention. Exposure to extreme external heat like a fireplace and sunlight is the most likely cause of hyperthermia. 

As cats enjoy warm environments, you would notice that they usually linger in these areas. However, because they naturally have warmer temperatures, plus when they get too much exposure to heat, they sometimes fail to self-regulate. 

What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthermia in Indoor Cats?

While cats can generally handle hot weather, most don’t know how hot is too hot. When our feline friends begin to show the following symptoms, there is a good chance that they are already suffering from hyperthermia.

  • Restless behavior
  • Excessive panting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dark red gums
  • Excessive verbalizations
  • Unexplained aggression or irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Higher heart rate
  • Sweaty paws

How to Care for a Cat With Hyperthermia

As soon as you begin to see signs of hyperthermia, the first thing you should do is to cool down your cat. Alleviate the symptoms of hyperthermia immediately to avoid a rising temperature that leads to heatstroke.

Cat sitting on an outdoor bench

When a cat’s temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you can perform the following procedures to begin the cooling down process. 

  1. Use a wet cloth to pet your cat.
  2. Let it lie on a cold surface, such as a rubber mat or floor tiles.
  3. Let your cat drink fresh, cool water.
  4. Adjust the air-conditioner to a lower setting or use a fan.
  5. If possible, bathe your cat to alleviate heat immediately.

Which Cats Don’t Tolerate Hotter Temperatures Well?

When the temperature rises beyond your cat’s average body temperature, your pet may struggle to tolerate and overcome the hot weather. These cats sometimes can’t tell when they’ve absorbed too much warmth.

Kittens

A kitten can’t regulate its body temperature until it is eight weeks old. It needs its mother to lick and cool the body.

Long-Haired Breeds

Birman and Persian cats come from places with cooler temperatures. While they have adapted to hot temperatures, their average body temperature remains higher than other breeds, making them susceptible to the summer heat.

Senior Cats

A cat sweats through the footpads. Since an older cat may have mobility issues, it may struggle to lick its footpads to cool down.

Overweight and Obese Cats

Overweight cats with too much body fat can absorb more heat. This is why cat indoors may pant in warm weather because of their weight.

Cats With Heart Problems

A cat with breathing or heart problems would find it difficult to get enough air to regulate body temperature.

What Is Heat Stroke in Cats?

Heat stroke can happen when a cat’s body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. When left unmanaged, high body temperatures can damage multiple organs in your cat’s body.

Heat stroke, a severe case of hyperthermia, displays almost the same symptoms as hyperthermia, with the presence of pet vomiting, disorientation, drooling, and delirium.

How to Provide First Aid for Heat Stroke in a Cat

When you’re certain that your cat is not well because of heat stroke, you must start the cooling down process immediately. You can use the procedures described above along with these tips when your cat is suffering from heat stroke.

  1. Record temperature checks for a vet reference.
  2. Provide fresh, cool water. Avoid ice cold water because it can narrow a cat’s blood vessels.
  3. Use a sprayer and spritz warm water around the cat’s body.
  4. Prepare a towel to dry our cat once the temperature reaches 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  5. Avoid excessive cooling in cats, which may lead to a different case called hypothermia. 
  6. Provide a cool surface to relax. It can be in a dark room, a covered cardboard box, or a cooler room in your house with a tile floor.
  7. Feed your pet some frozen treats, like frozen broth.
  8. Place a frozen water bottle wrapped in a towel by your cat’s bed or cooling mat.
  9. Continue the cooling down process as you contact and make your way to the vet.

How Do You Check a Cat’s Body Temperature?

The easiest way to tell our cat’s temperature is by using a thermometer. However, there are also ways to tell if a cat is experiencing heat stress if there’s no thermometer.

Checking Temperature in Cats Using a Thermometer

As cats begin to feel uncomfortable with the rising temperature, it may be difficult to get their temperature, although it is a must. Here are ways to make it easier.

Cat lounging on a pavement
  1. Use a blanket to wrap around your cat to discourage aggressive behavior. If not, you may need assistance from another person.
  2. Use a rectal thermometer to get the temperature. 
  3. Apply a generous amount of lubricant. Gently insert the thermometer into its anus.
  4. Leave it there for a couple of minutes for a more appropriate reading.
  5. Gently remove the thermometer, and record the reading before cleaning.

Identifying Heat Stress in Cats With Manual Checks

If a thermometer is not available, you can tell if your cat is beginning to overheat in the following ways.

  • Check the nose for moisture. Dryness indicates overheating, if not dehydration. To identify if your cat is suffering from dehydration, gently press your cat’s back with the fur lifted. If it returns to normal immediately, it is not dehydrated.
  • Check the ear temperature. Normally, a cat’s ears feel warm. When they overheat, the difference in hotness is very distinguishable. 
  • A body that is warmer than usual indicates overheating. Make sure it has not just risen from a nap on a warm surface.

How Do Cats Cool Themselves Off?

A cat can cool itself off by grooming its body. It has sweat glands in certain parts of the body. However, most sweat glands are covered in fur. The most accessible ones are on the paws; sometimes, those glands on the paws aren’t big enough to relieve a warm cat.

You may also notice cats indoors slowing down in an attempt to reduce its body temperature.

How to Keep a Cat Cool During Hot Weather?

Heat stress is common in cats and may occur at any time of the year. However, it is most often on summer days. Regardless, it is best to keep cats cool and comfortable at all times to avoid the risks of hyperthermia and heat stroke. 

Use a Bowl That Can Keep Drinking Water Cool

It’s not enough to provide fresh water; you also need to ensure that the water stays cool and clean to alleviate body heat faster.

Ensure a Cool Environment

Adjust the air-conditioning system at home to a cooler setting, especially on hot, humid days. In general, the temperature at home should be between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Set it to 78 degrees Fahrenheit for a long-haired breed. You can also use a fan or air vent to keep cats cool and comfy.

Do Not Leave Cats Outside or in a Car for a Long Time

Cats enjoy basking under the sun, although they don’t know how much is too hot for them, especially when enjoying the sun, they might be at risk for outdoor-related pet sickness. You can take them inside after your cats have enough play and exercise. However, they should never be left inside a parked car, as the temperature inside can rise to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Provide Cool Space for Resting

Your cat’s bed should be slightly elevated to ensure air circulation. If not, air would be trapped underneath and only promote heat stress. 

Groom Your Cat

Brush your cat’s coat to remove excess fur coat that traps body heat. You can also wash its body with a wet cloth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Die From Extreme Heat?

A cat can die from heat-related diseases and extreme heat in 15 to 30 minutes. It can be faster if a cat is trapped in a hot, enclosed place or exposed to an outdoor temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Are Situations to Avoid to Prevent a Cat From Suffering from Heat?

To prevent your cat from suffering from the heat, avoid direct sunlight, a humid environment with inadequate ventilation, and too much exercise without providing cold water.

What Can a Veterinarian Do to Treat a Cat Suffering From the Hot Weather?

A veterinarian can place an intravenous (IV) line in your cat. These fluids can regulate body temperature and counter the effects of hot weather. A vet can also monitor your cat’s temperature until it’s stable.

Conclusion

On average, cats have a body temperature ranging between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. With too much heat, they fail to self-regulate sometimes. A temperature exceeding the normal range is an indication of hyperthermia, and more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit could lead to heat stroke.

Categories Cat

Doctor Joe Alcorn received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1981, and founded Care Animal Hospital in 1991 in Temecula, California. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.