Caring for your cat in the winter can be tricky. At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we’ve been taking care of your cats for years. We see more cold related illnesses and injuries than we’d like to each winter. There are a few extra things to look out for and we will help you spot them.
Frostbite is not uncommon for outdoor cats. It will normally affect the tips of the ears as this is where your cat’s coat is the thinnest. Look for signs of frostbite if your cat spends anytime outside during the cold months.
- Gray or pale-colored patches on its skin
- Black patches of skin
- Flaky or scaly skin
- Curled or shriveled ears
- Your cat is unable to warm up
- Its paws, ears, and the tip of its tail feel extremely cold
- New bald spots
- Blisters or other inflammation
- A rotting smell coming from any part of your cat
If you notice any of these things with your cat, contact a vet immediately and schedule an appointment.
Prolonged exposure to cold could put your cat at risk of hypothermia. Some mild symptoms are:
More severe symptoms look like:
- low blood pressure
- shortness of breath or wheezing
- unresponsiveness and lethargy
Again, if your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, take them in to see their veterinarian.
Apart from providing access to a warm place, provide your cat with other comforts that help keep them warm. Cat coats are great if your cat likes to spend time outside. Especially for breeds with shorter coats, like the Havana Shorthair or the American Shorthair, the extra layers will keep them insulated. This will regulate their internal temperature and shield their skin from the blister cold winter wind. Also, using a warming water bowl can help your cat’s internal temperature return to normal. Cats need as much water in the winter as the rest of the year and will drink more regularly if they expect it to be warm.
Just like dogs, cats are attracted to the sweet taste of anti-freeze. This is problematic. If ingested, the anti-freeze could poison your kitty.
The chemical ethylene glycol in the anti-freeze, the substance lending the anti-freezing properties to the solution, oxidizes several times in the digestion system until ultimately turning into oxalic acid. Oxalic acid attacks the central nervous system first and then organs including the heart and kidneys. Due to this, you may notice specific symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning in your cat:
- muscle twitching
- staggered walking
- increased water consumption and urination
Keep anti-freeze securely closed and away from your pets and little ones. Your vehicle should not be leaking fluid, but if it is, clean it up immediately. Even if you don’t have a cat, your neighbor’s may decide to walk over and have a lick. Cover the spill with sand or, ironically enough, cat litter. Once all the anti-freeze is absorbed, scrape up the mess, bag it, and toss it in the trash. Clean the area with soap and water and then go get your car’s radiator checked out.
Care for your cat this winter. Love them as much as they deserve. Keep them warm. If you notice your cat having any of the symptoms discussed above, call us immediately. These are all treatable if caught early enough.
Happy holidays and stay warm, from Catonsville Cat Clinic.