Hypothermia in Feral Cats

Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when an animal’s body is no longer able to maintain
normal temperature, causing depression of the central nervous system.

Mild Hypothermia, 90-99°F (32-35°C)
Symptoms include shivering, weakness, lethargy, and mental confusion.

Moderate Hypothermia, 82-90°F (28-32°C)
Symptoms include all of the above, shallow breathing, muscle stiffness, low
blood pressure, and even further loss of mental alertness.

Severe Hypothermia, anything less than 82°F (28°C)
Symptoms include all of the above, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and
coma.

Treatment

If the cat is alert, raise the body temperature using blankets and insulation
in a warmed room. Make sure the cat is insulated from the cold floor.
Warming blankets in the dryer for a few minutes may also be helpful.

Apply heat packs or soda bottles filled with warm water to the head, neck,
armpits and groin areas. When applying a heat source (heat packs, warm
bottles etc…, always cover in towels or blankets to prevent burns).

If the cat’s fur is wet, gently dry it with a hairdryer set to low and held 12
inches away from the cat.

Seek veterinary assistance immediately, what appears to be a mild case of
hypothermia may, in fact, be more severe.

Frostbite

Community cats are at very serious risk for frostbite.

  • The paws, ears and tail are the most common tissues to be affected. If a cat is
    wet or damp, these areas are more vulnerable to frostbite.
  • Discoloration of the affected area of skin, often pale, gray or blueish
    Coldness and/or brittleness of the area when touched
  • Pain when you touch the body part/s
  • Swelling of the affected area/s
  • Blisters or skin ulcers
  • Areas of blackened or dead skin

Treatment

Move the cat to a dry, warm area as soon as possible, treat hypothermia.
Warm the skin and stimulate the return of circulation to the affected area with
warm (not hot), moist heat. This can be accomplished by immersing the area in
warm water for 15 to 30 minutes, or applying a warm moist towel to the area.

DO NOT rub the area as it will cause more damage.
DO NOT wamm a frostbitten area if you cannot keep it warm.
DO NOT use direct heat, such as a heating pad or hair dryer.

As the circulation returns, the skin will redden.

Apply triple antibiotic ointment to the skin.

if any of the red areas start turning dark, it is a sign of severe tissue damage and
the cat should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

DO NOT give any pain medication unless specifically instructed by a
veterinarian. Many human pain relievers are extremely toxic to cats.