The past few days have been unseasonably cold in Spokane area. When the thermometer dips this low, it can be dangerous for cats left outdoors. A common injury is frostbite. Frostbite is an injury to tissue that arises when a cat is exposed to freezing temperatures escorted by high winds. The main areas that are affected are the tail, feet and tips of the ears.
The body reacts to exposure to cold temperatures by reducing blood flow to the exterior regions of the body. This conserves blood flow to the vital internal organs. The alteration of blood increases the chances frostbite in the ears, toes and tail. Without proper blood flow, these body parts are lacking in warmth and oxygen. Ice crystals can develop in the body tissues, which can bring about tissue death.
Regrettably, frostbite injury is not instantaneously apparent. It may take quite a few days before you notice the signs of frostbite injury.
The signs to look for are skin discoloration on the toes, tail and ears, blisters, pain and swelling and sloughing of skin.
Analysis of frostbite is based on a chronicle of exposure to freezing temperatures and type and location of skin injury.
To begin with, remove the cat from the freezing milieu and gradually begin to re-warm the affected tissues. Bandages may be used to decrease damage to the tissues as they are re-warmed. Never place the cat in hot water.
Wounds may require being cleaned. Your veterinarian will also supply pain relief and antibiotic therapy... In acute cases, amputation of the affected area may be mandatory to prevent additional infection and the development of gangrene.
Removing the cat from the freezing environment is essential. Re-warm the affected tissues only in warm water (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the minimum of 20 minutes, but do not massage or rub the affected areas. This can cause considerable damage to the frostbitten tissues. After opening treatment, call your veterinarian for treatment to prevent infection and to treat for pain.
To prevent frostbite from ever happening, keep your cat protected from extended exposure to freezing temperatures. Regulate and reduce the amount of time you allow your cat outdoors. Once indoors, keep your cat toasty-warm. Pay specific attention to the ears, feet and tail.