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What is Low Body Temperature?

Hypothermia is a serious health condition that can become a life-threatening situation within minutes if the feline is unable to restore its core body temperature. Outdoor cats, stray cats, short haired and hairless cats are commonly affected by hypothermia during the winter months, but cats that undergo surgery are also at risk. Anesthesia slows the heart rate and flow of blood, resulting in a lower body temperature. Veterinary professionals use proactive methods during the use of anesthesia to prevent hypothermia, but prolonged surgeries can put a cat at risk. Low body temperature can also be an after-effect of cats in shock, cardiovascular disease and limb thromboembolism, so seeking a proper diagnosis from a veterinary professional is a must. 

A cat’s normal body temperature is between 37.7 and 39.2C or 100 to 102.5F. When a feline’s core temperature drops below the standard value, he or she is believed to have low body temperature. Low body temperature, or hypothermia, has initial signs of shivering as the body uses muscle contractions in an attempt to warm itself. If the feline cannot restore body temperature in time, the condition soon becomes severe, resulting in slow blood flow, a decreased heart rate and eventual death. Cats with short hair, or hairless cats, living in cold environments are the most susceptible to low body temperature. 

Low Body Temperature Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Low Body Temperature in Cats

Symptoms of hypothermia range from mild to severe, depending on the underlying cause and the amount of time the cat’s temperature has remained below normal. Low body temperature in cats can easily be detected by a cat owner through the following symptoms:

Mild Low Body Temperature

  • Lethargy
  • Listlessness
  • Cold skin 
  • Shivering

Moderate Low Body Temperature

  • Blue or pale gums
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slow, shallow breath
  • Drowsiness

Severe Low Body Temperature

  • Coma 
  • Collapse
  • Death 
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Causes of Low Body Temperature in Cats

Environment-Associated Hypothermia 

The cause of low body temperature in cats is quite similar to the cause of hypothermia in humans. If your cat has become wet and is the temperature is cold, the feline’s temperature could easily drop. Cats that are left outside in the rain or snow without shelter can easily develop environment associated hypothermia. Cats with short hair or no hair are most susceptible to this type of hypothermia, as well as infants and elderly cats. 

Anesthesia-Associated Hypothermia

Cats which undergo lengthy surgeries that require heavy sedation are prone to anesthesia-related hypothermia. Anesthesia slows the heart rate, slows the breath, and blocks all nerve receptors, preventing the cat from moving or feeling. As anesthesia slows bodily functions, it also lowers the body’s core temperature and the cat could develop hypothermia if not properly monitored. 

Toxicity-Related Hypothermia 

Cats that ingest ivermectin (a parasite medication), paracetamol (acetaminophen), rat poisoning, or other toxic substances can experience blood loss and low heart rate, resulting in a low body temperature. 

Shock-Related Hypothermia

Septic shock related to an intestinal leakage or infection of the blood can cause a feline to go into shock and suffer a lower core temperature. 

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Diagnosis of Low Body Temperature in Cats

Low body temperature in cats can be easily diagnosed through the use of a rectal thermometer, which will give the veterinarian an estimate of your cat’s core temperature. A physical examination of the feline is also a very helpful diagnostic tool for the veterinarian as symptoms such as shivering, blue mucous membranes, and a weak appearance are clear warning signs of hypothermia. During this time, the veterinarian will ask you to talk about your cat’s current medications, behavior at home, and the chance of accidental ingestion of a poisonous substance. 

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Treatment of Low Body Temperature in Cats

The main treatment goal in a cat with low body temperature is to warm her up and increase her core body temperature. There are two treatment options for increasing the body temperature in a cat: passive external and active internal methods. 

Passive External

Passive external treatment is used in cats with mild to moderate hypothermia. The feline is warmed from the outside through the use of blankets, heating pads, and heated water bottles. Heating pads and heated water bottles will be covered by protective blankets to prevent burns to the cat’s skin. A hair dryer should NEVER be used to restore a cat’s core body temperature. 

Active Internal 

Active internal treatment is used in severe cases of hypothermia, as the veterinarian will warm the feline from the inside out. Intravenous fluids and heat ventilation are commonly used during active internal treatments, but your veterinarian may choose one or the other. 

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Recovery of Low Body Temperature in Cats

Low body temperature in cats can have a positive result if immediate treatment is sought by the pet owner. The longer a cat remains hypothermic, the greater the chance for permanent tissue damage to result as the blood flow was slowed for that length of time. Your veterinarian may ask to hospitalize the cat for a couple of days or for you to keep the cat isolated to the indoors to monitor her condition. 

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Low Body Temperature Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Low Body Temperature Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Persian Cat

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4 months

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Unknown severity

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Temperature Loss

My cats get sick, they stop eating, sometimes vomit, then loose body temperature and die.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that happens to your kittens, that is terrible. Since this is something that seems to be ongoing, it would probably be a good idea to have them seen by a veterinarian. There may be parasites, infectious disease, or something in the environment that is causing this. Having them examined by a veterinarian make give you a clue as to why this is happening so that you can make it stop. I hope everything goes well for the kittens that are remaining.

Oct. 6, 2020

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unknown

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Three Years

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Low Temperature, Slow Breathing, Don’T Want To Eat And Drink, Walks Backward Because Her Legs Are Weak, Her Ears Are So Cold

my cat was diagnosed with unknown virus a few days ago. she is currently pregnant. it’s been 4 days since she last eat and drink. i only give her water using syringe. she breathe using her tongue/mouth. her body is so cold. she is the cat that i love the most and i am so sad..

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this venue is not set up for urgent questions. Since I cannot see your pet, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for your pet.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Cookie

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Snowshoe

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hairloss
Pale
Pale Pink Gums
Pale Nose

My cat is a 13 yr old snowshoe. I can feel his ears and nose cold like for a couple of months.. im afraid he is dying? But he is eating, playing...normaly. he is over grooming . I can see spots. No scratching using his hands or legs. What are the tests required for him exactly please? Thank you

Sept. 19, 2018

Cookie's Owner

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N/a

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Unknown

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3 Days

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Soft Stool
Low Temperature
Yellow Stool

I recently found a litter of day old kittens thrown in the trash and have began caring for them. Now on day three and they’re all very active and crawling everywhere and even out of the container I had them in so I had to place something on top to keep them in. I’ve been weighing them and checking temperatures and they’ve been growing like they should even the runt. But I’m still terrified I’ll lose one. Even though they are growing at the proper rate of not a bit quicker. I’m not able to pay for a vet until next week so hoping I can keep it up until then but what color should the stool be? Also ones temperature dropped to 97.1 but I took it again and it was at 99.7. Did I just not take it correctly the first time? Gums and mouth are pink and have them all next to a hot water bottle

Sept. 14, 2018

N/a's Owner

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Leo

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Longhair

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6 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Infection

My one and a half month old kitten was vomiting time to time...I took him to vet..He dripped the cat and injected two syringes and guided me not to give him kitten bisciuts..and fast the kitten upto 6 hours and feed him boiled mashed chicken..After coming home,he wanted to sleep but was meowing very much..I turned off the fan..he slept.I checked that does it really want to off that fan,I turned on the fan and he meowed again I turned off the fan then..What Should I do now?

Sept. 10, 2018

Leo's Owner

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Grayson and Oreo

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tabby

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6 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Blue

I have two brother kittens both 5-6 weeks old. Their mother didn’t want to finish feeding them. So we’ve tried keeping things warm here but Grayson and Oreo we just had to learn cpr and we saved them for now the water bottle is warming them up really good I’m doing kangaroo care to keep their breathing in check gonna be a long night

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Leia

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Unknown

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Cold
Poop
Litterbox

My 11 year old female cat is constantly sleeping on the heat registers, burrowing in blankets, and cuddling with our legs. About a year ago she had a bout with an urinary infection, and since then will not defecate in her litter box(es). I'm wondering if her low body temp is causing the poop problem. She does urinate in the box, at least.

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Bean

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TORTOISE shell

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7 Months

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Lethargic
Not Eating
Low Temperature
Bloody Vomit
Isolation

PLEASE HELP. It is 3 AM so I have to wait until morning to seek help. I have a 7 month old kitten. This morning she was completely fine, drove 6 hours to my parents house, she was in a kennel. I didn't notice anything abnormal about her behavior, she was keeping to herself a bit after we arrived but I figured she might be avoiding the dogs. She suddenly started vomiting, at first just some clear mucus substance with what looked like remnants of food, and some tiny red flecks. When I fed her dinner she did not eat which is very unlike her. She vomited a second time with just pink fluid no foam. The third time she vomited it was bright red with some foam. She keeps vomiting with pink tinge, not as dark as the second time she threw up. She drank some water but her ears and paws are feeling a bit cold. If she ingested something I wouldn't have the slightest clue what it could be. There is nothing poisonous for her to consume. She was wearing a safety collar which I found off of her inside her crate after we were home for awhile, they are kind of hard to break open. I read online that bloody vomit could be from esophageal trauma? Could the collar have caused that? She also seems very lethargic and wanting to keep to herself. Really worried about dehydration and blood loss. Hoping there is no obstruction or perforation. Her abdomen to me felt a little hard compared to my other cat but I asked someone else to feel them both and they said they felt the same. Does she need sugar water to help keep her energy up? I turned the heater on to heat the room and put a blanket on her to try and warm her. Going to try my hardest to have her drink more water before morning. Her gums looked a little pale as well but not white. She is also fully vaccinated but not spayed.

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Hopper

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stray

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Lethargy
Lethargy, Low Body Temperature
Lethargy, Low Body Temperature, Vomiting

I have a kitten 4 who is 4 months old. He generally is full of zeal and energy but from past one day he is showing unwanted symptoms including lethargy, white foamy vomiting, no food intake and cold paws. She is getting weaker and i am too afraid to lose her as she is a very good kitten and i don't want to lose her.... Her temperature is around 95°F as checked by vet. I hope she will get well soon. Right now i have kept her in a cardboard box under 100watt bulb as said by vet to keep her heated and to raise her body temperature. I hope she will get well soon.

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Sherman

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Siamese

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing
Rapid Breathing Low Body Temp Letha

Hi, I have an 8yr old male siamese cat. He was previously in good health and he is a rescue animal. 2wks ago he started breathing harder than normal, or rapid breathing. He's lethargic, lost some of his appetite, and weak. I used to call him my stalker. He would follow me everywhere from the basement to the bathroom..now he cant even walk across the room without taking a break..I took him to the vet. His temp was 99, and they did xrays and labs. The xrays showed fluid around his heart and his lungs..they started him on furosemide, which ive learned via the internet, is a diuretic for CHF, but the vets just said it would help him breathe..are they waiting for the labs to come back for a more positive result? Are there other possibilities? Is my boy dying? What can I do to help him? Hes part of my family...

Low Body Temperature Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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