Hypothermia in cats: symptoms, cause, treatment and prevention


Hypothermia is the term used for body temperature below the norm. In cats, the average temperature is considered to be 38.5 ° C and the norm is between 38 and 39 ° C. It is important that the teacher knows how to locate symptoms of hypothermia which can have different causes. At the slightest alert, it is recommended to consult the veterinarian so that the reason for this drop in temperature is quickly identified and the cat can benefit from an appropriate treatment as soon as it is essential. So let’s take stock and see if it is possible to prevent hypothermia in the cat.

Symptoms of hypothermia in cats

A cat with a body temperature below 38 ° C is hypothermic. It has telltale symptoms such as:

  • Tremors,
  • Shining or watery eyes,
  • Loss of appetite
  • A disorientation,
  • Muscle stiffness,
  • The dilation and fixity of the pupils,
  • A state of weakness …

The lower the body temperature of the little feline, the more risks for the animal are raised. It exists three degrees of hypothermia depending on which the symptoms vary, namely:

  • Themoderate hypothermia, between 34 and 37 ° C:
    • Tremors,
    • Agitation,
    • Diffuse pain when the cat is handled, especially in the paws,
    • Irregularity of the respiratory rhythm,
    • Tachycardia.
  • Theintermediate hypothermia, between 30 and 33.9 ° C:
    • Discoloration of the mucous membranes which become very pale,
    • Irregular breathing punctuated by disturbing pauses,
    • Prostration of the animal,
    • Abnormally low heart rate or bradycardia.
  • Thesevere hypothermia, less than 30 ° C:
    • Extremely weak and slow pulse,
    • Breathing difficulties,
    • Coma.

Irreversible damage or even the sudden cat death are to be feared in the event of a drastic drop in body temperature, especially if he is already in poor health.

The master must imperatively get closer to a veterinary practice or the veterinary clinic closest to his home so that the cat can be taken care of urgently. It should be noted that the consequences can be serious in an adult cat, but they are even more critical if it is a kitten whose body is particularly vulnerable due to the immaturity of its immune system.

Causes of hypothermia in cats

Here are the main causes of abnormally low body temperature in cats.

  • Exposure to intense and prolonged cold (cat who spends time in the snow, in freezing rain or even in extremely low temperatures for example …),
  • A disease which causes a weakening of the organism, which can no longer produce sufficient body heat,
  • At the end of life, knowing that a very old cat on the verge of death can suddenly have a drop in body temperature.
  • Place the cat in a moderately heated room.
  • Dry the animal if it is wet by wrapping it in a large absorbent towel but without rubbing it.
  • Look for the presence of wounds, lesions or redness in the event of prolonged exposure to intense cold, knowing that the gel causes frostbite and burns.
  • Rebalance glucose levels because certain mechanisms have been triggered so that the body can cope with the significant drop in body temperature such as, for example, a large consumption of energy reserves. You should know that in the absence of this rebalancing, the consequences can be serious for the cat. Indeed, hypoglycemia is to be feared, which could plunge him into a coma.
  • Enemas,
  • Fluid therapy,
  • Oxygen therapy,
  • The use of electrolytes,
  • Intravenous therapy.

It is not easy for the teacher to identify some of the causes of hypothermia. He must therefore immediately refer to an animal health professional.

Body temperature too low: what treatment for the cat?

The management of a cat with hypothermia consists of raise your body temperature. The veterinarian may use one or more of the following means:

In the presence of a cat with severe hypothermia, the veterinarian may resort to some of the following solutions:

The animal is then placed under observation for a few hours to several days. The practitioner may find it necessary to perform various examinations in order to clearly identify the origin of the hypothermia, especially if the cause is disease. This will then allow him to prescribe the necessary treatment.

Can we prevent hypothermia in cats?

In some cases, hypothermia in cats can be avoided. In winter for example, do not leave the animal too long outside when the temperatures are very much below 0 ° C, if it is freezing rain or if there is snow. It is desirable to install a cat flap allowing the kitty to get out and in as he pleases. If he feels that it is very cold, he will instinctively know how to take shelter. Caution should be all the more important if you have a naked cat as is the case for the Peterbald, Sphynx, Levkoy or Donskoy breeds for example since no fur protects them.

It is advisable to take your cat’s body temperature very regularly in winter to ensure that it remains within the norm, or at any time of the year when the animal seems woozy. At the slightest drop, the veterinarian will be able to intervene more quickly.

In addition, if the cat is sleeping in a part of the house that is not heated, it may be necessary to install a small backup heater so that the ambient temperature either kept at 18 or 20 ° C (23 ° C minimum for kittens) and to ensure that the cat can curl up in a cozy basket lined with a high quality fleece blanket that keeps the heat. It may be advisable to place this bedding on a heating mat or, to maintain a litter of kittens warm, to resort to infrared lamps. We do not hesitate to offer our little companion a cat coat that can be bought in certain pet stores.

Finally, it is essential to give your cat a perfectly balanced diet so that his body can draw from it everything it needs to function properly. An animal with nutritional deficiencies is much more at risk of hypothermia as soon as it starts to get cold.