Although your cat may have a furry coat, cold weather can still be extremely dangerous. Imagine how you feel after being out on a cold day for more than a few minutes—even with your winter coat, you are probably still very cold. Cats are the same way, and if you leave your pet exposed to the cold for too long, he or she may show signs of hypothermia. In a worst-case scenario, hypothermia leads to death.
There are many different reasons why your cat could become too cold. If you typically let your cat outdoors, remember that he or she will need to come back inside more quickly during the winter. This is especially true for smaller cats, cats with short hair, or cats recovering from an illness. Also, never let your cat outside if he or she is wet, for whatever reason. In fact, if you bathe your cat or your cat otherwise gets wet, dry him or her immediately if the weather is cold, even if you are indoors. Make sure your cat cannot get outside in any way—your pet may not be able to figure out how to get back inside, and by the time you realize that he or she is missing, hypothermia could have taken hold.
Hypothermia is a medical condition when the body temperature drops too low for the organs to function properly. Frostbite often occurs in the extremities, because the body will begin to shut down unnecessary body parts in order to keep the vital organs as warm as possible. If you cat has hypothermia, you’ll see your pet shivering, moving slowly, and breathing shallowly. Eventually, your cat will become unresponsive and die. Therefore, it is important to warm up your pet.
However, if you warm a pet too quickly, the damage could be even worse. Resist the urge to dunk your pet in warm water! Instead, warm slowly. Bring your animal into a warm room and wrap in warm blankets. You can even throw a towel in the dryer for a few seconds. Or use warm water bottles wrapped in a washcloth. Hairdryers work well, as long as you don’t get too close to your cat and keep them on the low settings. Once your cat starts to warm up, a warm bath could be very helpful, although this is not a good idea if you plan to take him or her outside again to go to the vet.
Remember, calling your vet is always your best option. Animals simply sometimes get outside accidentally, no matter how caring you may be to your pet. If your cat shows symptoms of being too cold, you can use these warming techniques to save your pet’s life, and your vet will be able to get you on the right track to helping your pet recover.