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Cat Hypothermia is Not Cool

solitary-white-cat-looking-out-the-windowOne reason I like indoor cats is that I can sleep better and worry less; if my cats were outside I’d be extremely anxious if they didn’t come in at night or suddenly didn’t show up at their usual entry hour.

Even though most cats have thick fur coat, they can still suffer from hypothermia, just like people, especially if they get wet and imagine with the wind-chill it can be even more frigid and dangerous for your cat!

Hypothermia in cats is clinically defined when the cat’s body temperature is at a maintained level of 37.7° C (100° F) or below. As their body temperature drops, their heart rate and other key body activities will slow down to a point that unless immediate care is provided to warm up the animal the heart could stop.

Make sure you keep the phone number of your 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic handy, preferably on your phone so you can get help immediately in any cat emergency. Of course if you have a cat that is suffering from signs of hypothermia the first aid for the cat should be your first priority.

Diagnosing Hypothermia Symptoms in Cats

Just like a person, a cold kitty will begin to shiver more and more violently in attempt to generate warmth through muscle spasms and rapid movement of tissue to help create warmth. Cat ears and paws will become noticeably cooler as the blood flow becomes reduced due to the cold effecting the circulation system.

If thee ears and paws get cold enough frostbite will begin to set-in. Frostbite in cats, just like in people, can be very uncomfortable and dangerous if the limbs or extremities become frozen as tissue and cell death can occur causing permanent damage or even require the amputation of particular body parts. Poor little dears!!

When a cat’s body temperature slips below the danger threshold, the breathing will become lethargic as heart rate slows. This combination is dangerous enough to lead to a potential coma in a cat.

Be careful in the winter as this is when most cases of hypothermia occur in cats and of course it can happen in warmer weather if the cat gets wet or submersed for long periods as water temperatures can be much cooler than air temperatures and wet fur provides little to no insulating protection for a cat.

From JC : What Can You Do If Your Cat Gets Cold?

“If your cat gets cold at night but won’t sleep on blankets, there are several other things you could try to keep him warm. You do, however, want to make sure your cat really is cold. I would think that he may not be cold at all if he does not want to sleep on a blanket. My cat’s have always curled up on blankets (as well as pillows, bathroom towels, clean laundry while I am trying to fold it) at every opportunity during the winter. During any season actually.

If you do indeed think your cat is cold, here are a few things you could try. First, you could try actually covering the cat with a blanket after he is already asleep. He may stay asleep and keep the blanket on.

If your can has a place he always sleeps like a throw pillow or a pet bed, you may be able to get away with filling a hot water bottle and either putting it under the cover on the pet bed or under the pillow if it is not too thick. If this will not work you could take an electric heating pad and use it to warm the bed for a few minutes. Just be sure not to leave an electrical device plugged in and on unsupervised or over night.

If your cat is an outdoor cat you could get a small doghouse to protect him some from the cold and wind, rain or snow. Putting an old bed pillow on the bottom for him to lay on. Some animals will not go into a doghouse if they are not used to having one. If this is the case, try having the cat watch you put a few treats or a pinch of catnip on the pillow. He should go right in for that, and will see that it is a warm, comfortable place to sleep.

If you have an indoor cat you could do something as simple as turn the heat up a few degrees or use an electric space heater to warm the room where the cat sleeps. Again, just be sure to turn the heater off and unplug it before you turn in for the night.

As a last resort, and I say last because I have found them very hard to get on, you might be able to find a sweater for your cat. I have seen them in large pet stores. I have found that sweaters are much easier to find for dogs than for cats. If this is the case for you also, a sweater made for a small dog should fit a cat just fine and they come in cute seasonal designs also!”

I’m not sure if I’ve known a cat to really enjoy wearing a sweater! I love seeing dogs wearing booties and sweaters or mini parkas during the winter in Canada but haven’t seen any cats walking around the neighborhood with matching snow boots and a fur-lined cat coat but I would sure love to see a photo. LOL!

My cats love to sit in warm areas and when we build a fire in the wood stove the cats usually gather around to keep warm and enjoy the radiant heat coming off the stove.  If I did ever have an outdoor cat that came down with hypothermia from being lost outside during a storm or fell in a pond and got wet and started freezing I would carefully bring the cat close to a warm heat source but nothing too extreme.

Always keep the vets phone number handy just in case.

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