My Cat's Temperature Is Low, What Should I Do? - Hypothermia in Cats

My Cat's Temperature Is Low, What Should I Do? - Hypothermia in Cats

Is your cat's body temperature low? If so, they're probably suffering from hypothermia. This is when a cat's body temperature drops and they start experiencing certain health issues due to the drop in body temperature. These include, neurological problems, heart problems, kidney failure and frostbites. This can lead them to their death.

In this AnimalWised article we're going explain what hypothermia in cats is, its causes, symptoms and treatment. Keep reading to learn how to help your cat when their body temperature drops.

What is hypothermia in cats?

Hypothermia in cats is a medical condition described as when a cat's body temperature is below normal. Although this doesn't sound very threatening, once it gets into its moderate or severe phase, it will bring other serious health issues to your cat. The phases of hypothermia in cats are the following:

  • Mild: this is when their body temperature is at 90 - 99°F (or 32 - 35°C)
  • Moderate: this is when their body temperature is at 82 - 90°F (28 - 32°C)
  • Severe: this is when their body temperature is less than 82°F (28°C)

neurological problems, heart problems, kidney failure and frostbites. These are very serious issues that can lead the cat to their death. This is why it's very important we react quickly to hypothermia in cats.

What causes hypothermia in cats?

Hypothermia in cats is often occurs in cold temperatures, however it can also occur in normal temperatures in newborn kittens due to lack of body heat. Other than newborn kittens, senior cats, cats under anesthesia and ill cats are also more vulnerable to suffering from hypothermia.

Therefore, if your cat falls into one of these groups, you'll need to be extra careful and make sure they're not cold, especially during winter. Make sure they have plenty of blankets to snuggle in and that they don't spend too much time outside when it's below 32ºF (0ºC). Continue reading to learn how to identify the symptoms of hypothermia and what to do if your cat's body temperature is low.

Symptoms of hypothermia in cats

As caregivers, we must be able to identify the symptoms of hypothermia in cats so as to react quickly and help our cat recover before it gets too serious. The most common symptoms of hypothermia in cats are:

  • Tremors
  • Muscular stiffness
  • Collapse
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Isolation
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Staring and dilated pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drop in heart rate
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Stupor
  • Coma

How to treat hypothermia in cats

Now that we know how to identify the symptoms, let's take a look at the treatment of hypothermia in cats. Once you've identified that your cat's body temperature is low, you should wrap them in a warm blanket and call your veterinarian. Remember that severe hypothermia can be fatal or have irreversible damage, so it's very important that you take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

At the veterinary centre, your vet will take several steps to ensure your cat's body temperature goes back to normal. They may also need to do further studies or treatment if your cat is suffering from other health issues that comes along with severe hypothermia. Here are some of the steps they may carry out:

  • If the animal is wet, it will be dried with a towel.
  • The cat will be moved to a slightly warm and controlled environment.
  • An external heating will be carried out.
  • The use of an enema or fluid therapy may be necessary.
  • The cat will be kept under observation until they can maintain their normal body temperature.

You should never rub the body of the animal, bathe them in hot water or apply warm water directly, as well as use thermal blankets, since they can burn the cat's skin, even when using the minimum power. Opt for a normal blanket and call your veterinarian so your cat can be helped by a professional. Your veterinarian will also be able to determine if your cat needs in other medical assistance for other health issues they may be experiencing due to the hypothermia, such as neurological problems, heart problems, kidney failure or frostbites.

Next, we will provide you with basic first aid tips for cats with hypothermia so you can help your cat while you wait for your veterinarian.

First aid for hypothermia in cats

1. Has your cat been in the snow?

If your cat has been outside in the snow and is now cold and wet, the first thing you'll want to do is help them dry quickly. Do this by placing dry towels around them and a warm blanket. Make sure they are safe indoors to help them recover quickly.

2. Provide your cat with warmth

Whether your cat is wet or simply cold, make sure they are indoors, close the windows and place them in a warm area in your house. You should also provide them with warm blankets they can snuggle in until they have regulated their body temperature.

To help your cat feel safe, we suggest you place them in a cardboard box with plenty of blankets inside. Place the box in a calm and warm place inside of your home. This will also help them reduce their anxiety.

3. Balance their glucose levels

To compensate for the drop in body temperature, just like all mammals, cats will use their fat reserves to try to keep their internal temperature stable. As a consequence, your cat will suffer a drop in sugar levels in their bloodstream, which in extreme cases can lead to them going into a coma.

To avoid this degenerative process and quickly stabilize your cat's glucose levels, you can offer them 1 teaspoon of honey. We would usually never recommend giving your cat so much sugar but if your cat is suffering from moderate or severe hypothermia it may help them recover quicker. However, it would be better if you call your veterinarian and ask them before you give this to your cat. Especially if your cat has other underlying diseases.

4. Check their body for possible frostbite injuries

If your cat has been exposed to very cold temperatures or suffered from hypothermia for a long time, it is likely that they have developed frostbite injuries. To identify them, you should check their entire body, paying special attention to the regions with the lowest concentration of hair, such as ears, legs, tail and anus. If you find lesions or reddened areas, do not hesitate to inform your veterinarian.

5. Contact your veterinarian

Even if you have followed these steps and your cat shows a notable improvement, you will need need to take your cat to the veterinarian to be sure they're not suffering from any underlying health problems and that they have fully recovered.

Remember that moderate and severe hypothermia will need veterinary help as your cat may be suffering from neurological problems, heart problems, kidney failure or frostbite injuries.

How to prevent hypothermia in cats

Preventing hypothermia in cats and dogs is not only possible, it is recommended and necessary, especially in winter. If we manage to keep the body temperature of our pets stable with the arrival of the coldest season of the year, we avoid unnecessary damage to their health. Here are some ways to prevent hypothermia in cats:

  • Measure their body temperature in winter: this is a very efficient preventive measure in cats that have access to the outdoors, as it allows us to verify the drop in body temperature before the appearance of any symptoms of hypothermia. If your cat is going outside everyday, we would recommend you take their body temperature everyday to make sure they're healthy enough to go outdoors.
  • Conditioning the home: with the arrival of winter, we must also prepare our home to provide warmth to our pets. Heating will be our best ally to keep the room temperature between 24ºC and 26ºC.
  • Essential accessories: it will also be essential to offer certain accessories to our cat so they can snuggle in warm blankets or a cat bed once they're back from outside and need to warm up. You can also consider getting them a cat sweater or snow boots if your cat goes outside in the snow. Remember to help them dry once back home. Hairless cats may also need cat sweaters in winter.

Learn more in our article about winter safety tips for cats. You can also watch our video below about how to care for your cat during winter!

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Cat's Temperature Is Low, What Should I Do? - Hypothermia in Cats, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.