Kittens and Heat Stroke: Symptoms and Remedies

You guys! Has it finally warmed up where you are? Or perhaps gotten even hotter? I can’t commiserate with you because I’m in the comfort of my air conditioned little condo, but I look outside and I can just see the flowers wilting. Well, not only do flowers wilt, but kittens can wilt, too!

That time I tried to cool off in Italy using the cat bath.

That time I tried to cool off in Italy using the cat bath.

Back with us today, we have Tammy from Feral Fixers in Lombard, IL. Last time, she gave us some great advice on keeping kittens warm and healthy. This time, she’s here to give us some advice on what to do if you find kittens who might be suffering from the intense heat! Although Tammy is not a vet, she’s a seasoned cat rescuer and has seen this many times and her advice can save some tiny lives in a pinch until you can get your little rescues to a veterinarian. Please note that this advice is not for treating your own cats at home! This is for saving outdoor kittens who wouldn’t make it otherwise. If you have health questions about your own cats, consult your veterinarian.

Kittens can't tell you if they're too hot. Look for symptoms like lethargy and mouth breathing.

Kittens can’t tell you if they’re too hot. Look for symptoms like lethargy and mouth breathing.

Hit it, Tammy! Tell me, how do you know if kittens are suffering from the heat?


Kittens under heat stress usually stretch out and mouth breathe.  In that case, the first thing to do is bring them in where its cool or at least take something frozen, wrap it well in a towel and set it next to them to start cooling their bodies.  Do not put it over them! Leave them enough room to move away but give them the option.  Syringe water into their mouths – 3mls can make a life or death difference – 10 mls would be great!  If you have the ability to do subQ fluids,  warm the fluids up to normal body temperature – cold subQ is painful to everyone, and do 5 – 10 mls per pound, up to 30 mls total for a 3 – 4 lb kitten – (This is just what has worked for me. I am sure there is a formula that someone could provide but I tend to go on gut instinct.)  10 mls of subQ can also be life-saving.  If they have not been under heat distress for a long time, this can help them bounce back quickly.
Part of heat stress is upper respiratory symptoms.  If their noses are gummy and they cannot breathe, clean their faces with simple water and a Kleenex or something soft, at the very least loosen the buildup of mucus.  If you can, use a syringe or even a tissue to put a few drops of plain water into their nostrils – same as Little Noses for human children, it loosens everything up and gets the gunk moving out.
The kittens eyes may be inflamed.  Part of any stress in kittens is that their eyes get inflamed and gunky.  Clean and don’t immediately medicate; give them 24 hours to improve. If no improvement is seen in that time or the are worsening, until you can get to a vet, using Neosporin WITHOUT PAIN RELIEF can keep their eyes lubricated, reducing any damage.  The pain relief can cause damage to the eyes so be very, very careful if you do this.  This is the same stuff the vet dispenses, calling it 3 in 1 or neopolybactin.
Deworm them for roundworms as soon as possible.  The dehydration can cause the worms to jam up their digestive systems even faster than usual, so along with hydration, those worms need to be kicked out before they can do any more damage.  There is an off-the-shelf roundworm dewormer available at Walgreen’s and Walmart.  Different medication than you would get from the vet, but in most cases does just as good a job.
Thank you, Tammy! Let’s hope that by getting this information out there, some tiny lives can be saved this summer in the heat!  If you live anywhere near the Lombard, Il area, Feral Fixers is looking for FOSTERS. Do you want to fosters? Then get in touch with them stat! They have a influx of tiny kitten lives they’ve just saved and need places to stash them. And if you’ve never fostered, don’t worry! We have plenty of articles here to help you figure out how.
PS. Don’t forget to vote (often) for Cat Behavior Finally Explained until July 31st to win the golden kitty award. HURRY! Do it!

What To Carry In Your Car For An Unexpected Cat Rescue

You guys!

Have you ever been out and about and, perhaps you see a cat and think, “If only I had the ability to help him right now…”

Well, I’m about to get you ready to do just that! I’ve spoken with three experts in the rescue field and am about to share with your their tips for what to carry with you in your car in case a rescue is needed.

This kit sucks for rescue. Shoes will not help you help a cat. Read on to find out how to pack your kit.

This kit sucks for rescue. A sparkly bathing suit and sunblock will not help you help a cat. Read on to find out how to pack your kit properly.

First up, we have Shawn Simons, the Headmistress at Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles, a rescue with a heck of a story and a special focus on trapping feral cats in the LA area. Here’s her advice:

I would always carry is a towel.  It is a very good way to grab a sick or injured cat while protecting yourself. Make sure you have a carrier to put the cat in. A humane trap may be useful but I find successful trappings often need a bit more prep, although a hungry cat may not need it. If you are trapping, our kits always include newspaper, tuna, can opener and a trap cover (like a blanket or large towel). We use baby food a lot for semi ferals. For night time, you’ll need a flashlight, of course. Also if you are not able to get straight to a vet, flea meds and clavomox would be good to have on hand.
Towels: A necessity!

Towels: A necessity!

Next up, we have a list of things that you might keep with you, provided by Liz Houtz, the Community Cats Program Manager at Tree House  (who happened to be the person that helped trap Louie and Sprinkle, the two “fosters” here that never seem to want to leave.) Here’s Liz’s list for what to bring with you when you plan to trap a feral kitty:
  • KMR kitten replacement milk
  • Kitten feeding bottle
  • Hot water bottle to keep kittens warm
  • Towels
  • Canned cat food and tuna for trapping
  • Can opener
  • At least one carrier (medium) and one trap
  • Newspaper for traps
  • Wire ties for broken carriers
  • Flashlight
  • Trap covers
  • Tarp to protect car
  • Duct tape
  • Trap divider

And finally, we have Tammy from Feral Fixers, an organization in DuPage County, Illinois that focuses on trap-neuter-return programs and works to support colony caretakers by providing traps and spay/neuter resources to help control the feral cat population. She says:

One of the most frustrating parts of rescue is not being able to go somewhere yourself. But having volunteers who CAN go there and do what needs to be done is priceless! We make it a habit to learn whatever we can about our volunteers so that we can call on them in a pinch and they come thru time and time again! A drop-in carrier, two towels, a small throw, some canned food – stinkier the better and a small sample size bag of dry food that you can shake to stimulate interest in food are the very basics and all can be stored and carried in that carrier. One towel to go in carrier, other towel or throw to drop on top of the cat to wrap and drop in carrier and then the throw to go on top and cover whole carrier to keep it quiet and safe. Just the very basics for cat pickup.

The Can Opener:  A Must Have for Resscues and The Already Rescued, Well-Fed House Cat

The Can Opener: A Must Have for Rescues as well as  The Already Rescued, Well-Fed House Cat

And there you have it! The basics (and then some) of what to carry with you so that you’re prepared in the event of a much-needed rescue! A hearty thanks to all of these wonderful experts in cat rescue. As a follow up to this article, we’ll be talking to Tammy again regarding how to know if kittens really NEED rescue and what exactly to do if you see some out and about.

Stay tuned!