Cats have a higher body temperature than humans. When a feline jumps onto your lap, it can be a bit of a surprise when your cat’s paws feel cold to touch. It’s usually nothing to worry about, but it can sometimes mean that your cat is sick or injured.
Constantly cold paws in cats are usually related to blood flow. The paws are always cold if a cat’s blood is not pumping throughout its body. Explanations include shock, blood clots, heart disease, low blood pressure, hypothermia, or the side effects of medication.
Unless your cat has just left a cold surface, its feet should always maintain a warm temperature. Cold cat paws suggest that blood is not reaching its extremities, either due to ill health or injury.
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What Temperature Should My Cat’s Paws Be?
Many domestic cats refuse to let humans touch their paws as they are the first line of defense against predators/enemies.
Your cat needs to have a body temperature of between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use the following methods:
- Rectal Thermometer
- In-Ear Thermometer
Check that your cat’s temperature falls within this range. Also, check that your cat’s feet start to warm up after it’s been indoors for 20-30 minutes.
A cat’s paws can tell you when they’re overly hot or too cold. Ignore what you may have heard about checking the temperature of a cat’s nose as it’s a myth. However, a cat’s paws can be a reliable temperature gauge.
Cat paws and ears are considered the extremities. If your cat is unwell, it’ll struggle to retain heat in these body parts. If your cat’s paws are constantly cool to the touch, then this suggests that something is amiss.
Why Do Cat’s Paws Get Cold?
A cat’s paws are like conductors for its ambient temperature. The paw pads found on feline feet are sensitive. If the ground outside is cold, then its paws will reflect the low temperature.
If it roams outdoors, discourage this behavior during snowy spells. Its paws will get so cold that this will affect its body temperature.
Its paws will also be cold if it has been walking on cold stone. This will be a transient and temporary issue, though. The paws should quickly become warm again when it returns indoors to a warm room.
If your cat’s paws seem to be constantly cold, there will likely be a medical explanation. The common causes of constantly cold feet in cats include:
- Low blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Side effects of medication or anesthesia
- Blood clots
Check your cat’s body temperature if its paws feel cool to the touch.
If its temperature is normal (between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit), you should check for other symptoms. If your cat is also lethargic and not eating or drinking, then further investigation is required.
Hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature) is the most common cause of cold feline paws. Hypothermia has three stages:
- Mild hypothermia. A temperature of 90-99 degrees.
- Moderate hypothermia. A temperature of 82-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Severe hypothermia. A temperature below 82 degrees.
Hypothermia can occur when a cat is exposed to very cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. For example, wet fur can cause hypothermia, especially in longhaired breeds of cats.
Aside from cold paws, the most common warning signs include:
- Shallow, labored breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Dilated pupils
A cat with hypothermia must be warmed up gradually. Wrap your cat in a thick blanket. If its hypothermia is moderate, put a hot water bottle under a blanket. In severe cases, your cat will need IV fluids administered by a vet.
Shock is likely if a cat experiences something traumatic. Common warning signs that your cat is in shock include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Withdrawn demeanor
- Weakness and lethargy
- Tremors and seizures
- Pale and discolored gums
If your cat is in shock, its body temperature will drop sharply. This, in turn, leaves it at risk of hypothermia.
To treat a cat in shock, wrap it in a warm blanket. Your cat will need to be kept calm and allowed to recover gradually.
There is no hard-and-fast rule as to how long it takes a cat to recover from shock. It depends on the cause and severity of the shock.
Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure (hypotension) is comparatively rare in cats. It can be a side effect of other conditions, though. In some unfortunate cases, it’s hereditary and inherited from a parent.
If your cat has cool paws but seems otherwise normal, hypotension could be to blame. Many cats do not show other symptoms. It’ll struggle to maintain its body temperature because its heart will beat more slowly.
Treating hypotension means treating the cause, such as blood loss or shock. Alternatively, it may be an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid.)
Cats with heart disease (cardiomyopathy) fall into 4 categories:
|Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)||The heart muscles thicken, so less blood is pumped through the body. Less blood reaches the paws.|
|Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)||This is where the heart muscles become thin. The heart enlarges and cannot pump blood to the paws.|
|Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM)||The heart’s wall will become stiff and rigid. Blood cannot reach the heart in order to be pumped around the body.|
|Intermediate cardiomyopathy (ICM)||This is a combination of HCM and DCM.|
Heart failure can be difficult to diagnose early at home. Many owners do not realize that their cats have heart disease until it’s too late.
Medication and Anesthesia
If your cat has started a course of medication, check for any side effects. If your cat’s paws are constantly cold, it may need a different prescription.
A general anesthetic will always leave your cat with cold extremities for a while. This is because her heart rate drops significantly while in surgery.
A vet will monitor your cat’s post-operative heart rate and temperature. They will not discharge a cat until it’s safe. Just keep your cat warm.
If your cat has cold paws for a prolonged period after getting a vaccination, it may be experiencing an allergic reaction, or be in a state of shock.
Blood clots cause cold paws because they prevent appropriate blood flow from reaching the extremities. It’s most likely to affect the back paws.
If your cat’s paws and nails are turning blue, it likely has a blood clot. Its paws are not receiving any blood/warmth. It will also struggle to walk on the affected leg(s) and may cry out in pain. Plavix (Clopidogrel) is a cat-safe blood thinner, according to MSPCA Angell.
Blood clots are most frequently caused by heart problems and/or obesity. Following diagnosis, the cause must be addressed. The clot itself will be addressed with blood-thinning medication (Clopidogrel).
One of My Cat’s Paws Is Cold
You may find that your cat has warm front paws, but cold back paws. Alternatively, it may just be that just one paw that feels cold. This is more concerning than all four paws having a low temperature.
Is your cat limping or avoiding using that leg? This suggests a possible injury or fracture. If so, blood may be unable to reach one paw due to swelling or blockage.
If your cat has chilly paws, it’s most likely to be a passing issue. For example, your cat has been walking on cool marble. However, constantly cold feet in cats could be an early warning sign of a health problem.