Common cat illnesses to look out for this winter

Posted by Nurse Whiskers. January 31st 2017. Tagged: Pet health and Winter pet care

The chill of winter can make us all feel under the weather. As temperatures start to drop, it’s important to remember our feline friends can get poorly too, with a host of common cat illnesses cropping up.

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 in the cold can put them in danger of serious illnesses.

Argos Pet Insurance knows the importance of preventing your pet from catching common cat illnesses, 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. It also occurs 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. This is 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. If your pet shows signs of hypothermia it’s important to take it to the vet immediately. 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 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. Look for limping or a reluctance to move. 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.

Thanks to their adventurous nature, cats can often get trapped in sheds or accidentally left outside during cold 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. 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. Keeping your cat fit can help it 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 and free from common cat illnesses during winter is to boost the immune system. This will help to fight viruses. Providing good, nutritious food is key for keeping the immune system on top form. Slightly increase your cat’s supply of food during the winter, especially protein. This will keep their fur thick and healthy and protect them from the cold. You’ll need to make sure your cat is getting plenty of exercise through regular play activities. This is especially important if you’re keeping them indoors as you don’t want them to gain too much weight. It’s also important to clean out your cats bowl regularly to kill any nasty bacteria that could cause illness.

Prepare yourself and your pet for common cat illnesses over winter by making sure you have a pet insurance plan. To find out more how Argos Pet Insurance can help insure your pet, visit



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