Common cat illnesses to look out for this winter

Posted by Nurse Whiskers. January 31st 2017.

The chill of winter can make us all feel under the weather; but as temperatures start to drop, it’s also important to remember our furry, feline friends can get poorly too.

While we all know the joy of escaping into the comfort of our homes from the cold winter air, it’s easy to forget that our cats are accustomed to the warmth too. Leaving your cat outside for long periods of time during the winter season can put them in danger of serious illnesses.

Argos Pet Insurance knows the importance of preventing your pet from getting ill, especially during the winter months, so we’ve put together some top tips for keeping your cat warm and well.

Hypothermia in cats

Cat Hypothermia, the condition of having an abnormally low body temperature, is a serious problem that cats may face during the winter months. Cats can suffer from hypothermia if they are left in cold temperatures for too long or when they’re exposed to the cold while already suffering from an illness or poor circulation. Pets suffering from the condition will shiver and show signs of tiredness, followed by their heart and breathing rates slowing down. 

The best way to prevent your cat from getting too cold is to make sure it has 24/7 access to a warm, sheltered place. For owners who are unable to have a cat flap, keeping your cat inside during the colder season is an option for minimising the risk of serious illness. If your pet shows signs of hypothermia it’s important to take it to the vet immediately, and in the meantime try and raise their body temperature with warm blankets or a towel-wrapped hot water bottle. 

Can cats get frostbite?

Frostbite, the damage to body tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold, is another condition that can harm our pets. Luckily, it’s a rare occurrence for most cats, but despite having a thick fur coat – the ears, nose, tail, and toes (or any area where the hair is thin) can still be susceptible to frostbite. Areas that are affected will be a bluish white colour and will feel cold to touch. This is due to the lack of circulation in the area caused by the cold temperatures. This can sometimes be difficult to see if cats’ pads are a dark colour, so also look for limping or a reluctance to move. As with hypothermia, the best way to prevent your cat from suffering from frostbite is to make sure it’s never left outside in the cold for long periods of time.

Despite providing a warm shelter for your cat, their adventurous nature means they can often get trapped in sheds or accidently left outside during snowy, rainy, or frosty nights. If this happens, and your cat returns home showing signs of frostbite, the best thing to do is warm the skin with a moist towel to stimulate the circulation.

Do not rub the area as this can cause more damage. The skin will redden as circulation returns, and it is then advised to apply aloe vera to the skin. If the affected area turns dark this can be a sign of severe tissue damage and you must take your cat to the vets immediately for further treatment.

Cat cold symptoms

While cats are not susceptible to the same cold virus as humans, they can get infected by a different virus that produces almost identical symptoms. Just as you would top up your vitamin intake and wrap yourself up warm in the winter, it’s important to help your cat keep fit so it can fight the woes of the common cold.

Symptoms of the cold include sneezing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, mild lethargy, mild fever, and loss of appetite. If your cat is coughing, this could suggest more than a cold and indicate the infection has spread to the lungs. If this happens, take your cat to the vet; some infections can lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.

The best way to keep your cat healthy during the colder months is to boost the immune system to help fight viruses. Providing good, nutritious food is key for keeping the immune system on top form. During the winter, it’s advised to slightly increase your cat’s supply of food, particularly protein, to keep its fur thick and healthy, and protect them from the cold. However, do also make sure your cat is getting plenty of exercise through regular play activities, especially if you’re keeping them indoors, to prevent them gaining weight during this time. It’s also important to clean out your cats bowl regularly to kill any nasty bacteria that could cause illness.

By making sure you have a pet insurance plan, you can be armed ready for any unexpected illnesses over the winter period. To find out more how Argos Pet Insurance can help insure your pet, visit



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