Feline hypothermia is a medical condition in which the body temperature of a cat drops below normal levels. It’s usually caused by environmental exposures such as cold temperatures, wet conditions or poor circulation, but can also be associated with certain medical conditions or medications. If left untreated, feline hypothermia can lead to serious health complications and even death.
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of feline hypothermia so that you can take action quickly. Common signs include slow or shallow breathing, lethargy, weak muscles, and pale or bluish gums. If your cat has any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your veterinarian right away for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Symptoms of Feline Hypothermia
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Weak muscles
- Pale or bluish gums
- Decreased heart rate
- Low body temperature
Diagnosing Feline Hypothermia
Diagnosing feline hypothermia is based on a combination of physical examination, laboratory tests, and radiographs. During the physical exam, your veterinarian will take your cat’s temperature and look for signs such as shallow or slow breathing, weak muscles and pale or bluish gums. The most accurate way to measure your cat’s body temperature is to use a rectal thermometer.
Your veterinarian might order laboratory tests such as blood work and urine analysis to look for underlying causes of hypothermia. Radiographs can be used to evaluate their heart, lungs and other organs for signs of organ damage or disease that could be contributing to their hypothermia.
Stage of Feline Hypothermia
Feline hypothermia can be split into three different stages based on the severity of the hypothermia: mild, moderate and severe.
Mild hypothermia is defined as a body temperature between 90-93 degrees Fahrenheit (32-34 °C).
Moderate hypothermia is defined as a body temperature between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit (29-32 °C).
Severe hypothermia is defined as a body temperature below 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 °C).
Treating Feline Hypothermia
The goal of treatment is to raise the body temperature to normal levels as quickly as possible. Treatment will depend on the cause of the hypothermia and the severity. Mild cases can usually be treated at home with a heating pad or warm fluids, while more severe cases could need hospitalization and intensive care.
Your veterinarian might recommend medications such as antibiotics or diuretics to treat any underlying causes that could be contributing to their hypothermia. In severe cases, supportive care such as intravenous fluids or oxygen therapy will be needed to stabilize your cat.
Preventing Feline Hypothermia
There are several steps that you can take to help prevent feline hypothermia. Make sure your cat has access to a warm, dry area in cold weather, and limit their exposure to wet or damp conditions. If your cat is ill or on any medications, contact your veterinarian for advice on how to best protect them from hypothermia. You’ll want to schedule regular veterinary check ups so that any underlying health issues can be diagnosed and treated promptly.