Many cats that are sick, elderly or debilitated need heat support. There are a few important rules and principles to give heat support. The most important thing is DO NO HARM. Heat support and be helpful but it can also be dangerous. Here are some tips:
Do not harm. Be careful that the heat is not too hot! Cats, especially elderly, debilitated or sick cats, can burn easily. They are often weak and don't move around as much, have thin delicate skin and poor circulation that can allow them to burn more easily than a healthy cat.
Keep a layer between the heat source and your cat. Because of risk of "burning", always keep a layer of bedding or a towel between the heat source and your cat.
Monitor the temperature – if it is too warm for you – it is probably too warm for your cat.
Provide "partial" heat support. Always provide the heat support in a manner that your cat can move away from it. For example, if you are using a heating pad under your cat's bed, only put it under half the bed so he or she can move away form the heat if he or she is too hot.
Monitor your cat's temperature. The only way to effectively determine if the heat support is working is to monitor your cat temperature. The most effective way to do this is by taking a rectal temperature. Read tips on how to take your cats temperature
Move your cat – if your cat is too sick and debilitated to move around him or herself, move them around. For example, if your cat has been laying on his right side for the past few hours, rotate him so he is laying on his sternum or left side.
Provide the heat in an open environment. Don't provide heat support in a closed are with poor ventilation. Small-enclosed areas can become way too hot causing your cat to over heat.
If you using electrical devices, use them carefully. Always start with the lowest possible setting and make sure it does not get too hot. Keep a layer between your cat and the device. Make sure electrical cords are in good repair and away from your cat.
For tips on the various methods to give heat support, click here.