COLD EXPOSURE, FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA
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Chilling to a newborn or young kitten can quickly lead to death. The most common cause of hypothermia that we have encountered is to get up at 6:00 a.m. and go out to check on a very pregnant female only to discover that she has given birth and not known what to do. We would often find the kits still in their sacs, cold and wet and quite dead. Many a time the lifeless little forms have been revived and have grown into loving adults, so we never give up.
We wipe the sacs away from their noses and drop the kits down into our shirts to rush them into the nursery. We give mouth to mouth resuscitation and heart massage and briskly towel their fur. A blow dryer, set on warm, blowing on the kit all the while is an added benefit. With kittens this small we put the nose and mouth into our own and blow very gently so as not to burst the lungs. Sitting there reading this, you may be saying to yourself, that there is no way that you would put some bloody, slimy animal in your mouth, but you would be surprised at what you will sacrifice to save your new infant. I only have one human daughter, but she knows who her “blood brothers and sisters” are in our home.
The exotic body temperature should be 101 degrees for all species that we have worked with. If the body temperature drops below 97 degrees you may see symptoms of shivering and then collapse, quickly followed by coma. You must warm the chilled cat gradually and then keep him warm. For more information see the chapter on kittens and cubs.
To warm an adult, dry him if he is wet and apply warm water packs to the armpits, chest and tummy. Make sure the packs are warm and not hot. As the cat begins coming around you can offer a little honey or sugar water.
Frostbite is much more serious and warm water soakings are called for to raise the temperature more quickly. The affected area will look pale white, and then red and swollen as the circulation returns. Topical Antibiotics and protective bandaging will speed the healing process. The dead tissue will usually fall off within three weeks. The ears are most often damaged in extreme cold. A warm den box will prevent this from happening.
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Note: I am not a veterinarian. If your exotic cat has suffered frostbite please consult a licensed veterinarian.