Sometimes people think that cats are safe outside because they have a fur coat, but the truth is that cats can also suffer from the cold. You know how the cold has a bitter bite to it and it affects your cat the same way. Cats can suffer from hypothermia the same as people. Cases of hypothermia can be very mild resulting in a slight chill to a severe case that can result in death unfortunately. Cats with short coats, young or old cats and cats that are suffering from illness are extremely susceptible to hypothermia.
Care should be taken in the winter that your cat doesn’t slip out and find itself locked outside in the cold. This can be easier said than done with some cats. Hairless and shorthaired cats feel the cold more because the lack or shortness of their coats affords them little protection from the cold, especially when it is windy. The wind chill factor does play a part in how badly the cold affects your cat. Young kittens do not have the energy reserves to maintain their body heat in the cold and neither to older cats.
Cats that are ill or recovering from an illness are also at greater risk. The cold will quickly sap their strength and leave them at the mercy of the cold. If you do let your cats out during the winter, keep a very close eye on them and the weather. Never let a wet cat go outside during the winter. The water in their fur can freeze into an ice coat and quickly drop the cat’s body temperature. Winter is a bad time to bath your cat, if for some reason you have to bath your cat make sure that it is completely dry as quickly as possible.
When a cat’s body temperature drops down to a degree that is to low for the body’s organs to function it has hypothermia. This medical condition will start shutting down body parts in a effort to maintain as much body heat in the torso as possible. The body will try and keep the heat around the heart as much as possible. When the body heat is pulled from the extremities such as the feet, legs, tail and ears the cat can suffer from frostbite. If your cat has gotten outside and you find that it is shivering badly, breathing shallowly and moving more slowly than normal you need to take quick measures to warm up your cat.
Treatment needs to be started as soon as you notice the cat is in trouble. Your first thought may be to stick your cat into a hot bath, this is the worse thing you can do. While you want to warm up your cat, it is vital that you warm the cat up slowly. Depending on the condition of the cat, there are several ways to safely raise its body temperature. Immediately bring the cat into a warm room and wrap it with blankets. Another good trick for gently warming the cat is to lay it on a heating pad on a low to medium setting.
If you do not have a heating pad, take a cardboard box about twice the size of your cat and line it with towels. Fill up either some two-litter soda bottles or some milk jugs with hot water. Line the sides of the box with the hot water bottles and gently lay your cat in the box. Call your veterinarian for advice as to what to do next. If the cat is responding to the gentle heat, you may not have to take your cat to the veterinarian, but always follow his or her advice. While it is better to keep you cat safe from hypothermia, they are very inquisitive and can be quite clever about getting out when we try to keep them in.