Polar: A Cautionary Tale

It was last Friday, the 24th, when a handsome tabby cat was brought to CATS Cradle Shelter with severe frostbite on all four paws and both of his ears. Now in the loving care of foster parents, this cat—aptly named Polar—has been put on painkillers and antibiotics and has undergone surgery. So far this little trooper has lost several toes and may even need a leg amputated.

Polar is living proof that, in subzero temperatures, no domestic animal should be left to fend for itself. If left to their own devices, dogs and cats can succumb to frostbite, hypothermia, and even illness from exposure to winter chemicals.

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature dips too low from exposure to a cold climate. If left untreated, it can lead to organ damage and death. Symptoms include an irregular heartbeat, lethargy, dehydration, cold skin, and labored breathing.

Frostbite occurs when cold temperatures constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to areas such as the tail, ear tips, and feet. Affected areas would be sensitive to the touch, discolored, swollen, blackened, or blistered.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are staggering, vomiting, lack of appetite, disorientation, excessive drinking, and frequent urination. Another dangerous substance is road salt, which can cause paw irritation. If ingested, it can lead to excessive drooling, decreased appetite, vomiting, and depression. In the case that your pet gets loose and walks on a salted sidewalk, wipe their paws immediately before they lick it off themselves.

Pets must also remain hydrated during the winter, and their water bowls must be placed in a warm area so they don’t freeze over. Air inside the house in winter can get very dry, so a humidifier could help make your pets more comfortable.

To keep up to date on Polar’s recovery, follow CATS Cradle Shelter on Facebook. The shelter is always open to donations.

– Särah Nour

2 Responses

  1. Carol

    Thank you so much, Sarah. This has been a heart wrenching ordeal for Gail and I and for all of the friends to animals worldwide. His suffering is almost unbearable for me to think about and I almost got physically sick when we visited him prior to his surgery yesterday. Cut me to my soul, little Polar is so innocent….the awareness he brings to the plight of abandoned cats and kittens can help to bring about action and change. Your article was very informative and I really appreciate your help. Bless you.

  2. Gail

    Thank you Sarah, for helping raise awareness about how dangerous it is to leave your pets outside in our brutal climate. Hopefully people caring for Ferrels will make sure they have a warm place to snuggle in during our freezing temps, and this won’t happen to any more innocent animals. Remember to spay and neuter your pets.

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