What Can I do if my Cat’s Ears Freeze?

Our question this week was:

What to do if cat freezes her ears. It is so cold up in Canada today and now I see our cats ears are puffed up and sore. She was only out for a few minutes.

D. Miller.


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that you are worried that your cat may have frostbite of her ears. As you may know, frostbite is injury to tissue that occurs when an animal is exposed to freezing temperatures accompanied by high winds. The primary areas that are affected include the feet, tail and tips of the ears.

If you think this may have happened to your cat – remove the cat from the freezing environment (it sounds like you already did) and begin to slowly re-warm the affected tissues. I’d place your cat in a warm area and if he or she allows you – even cover him or her with a blanket (especially if this can gently warm the ears). Even a heated blanket to slowly warm your kitty works great. You can place her favorite bed on a heating pad or place it under a blanket and place her on the blanket. Always make sure there is a layer of bedding between any heating pad and your cat and you make sure your cat can leave the heated area if it gets too warm. Cats can be burned by heating pads causing terrible skin damage.

For some parts of the body – you can bandage but not the ears. Do not place the animal in hot water. Wounds may need to be cleaned. Your veterinarian will also provide antibiotic therapy and pain relief. In severe cases, amputation of the affected area may be required to prevent further infection and the development of gangrene.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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