DENVER - A kitten that nearly froze to death when it was found outside in the cold suffering from hypothermia on Thursday was rescued when she was spotted in the snow and taken to the Denver Dumb Friends League.
The 3- or 4-month-old old kitten was brought to the shelter by Allison Baker, whose friend found the kitten covered in snow in a neighborhood just north of LoDo.
"A friend of mine called me this morning and she had a cat that she found outside. It was half covered in snow and (she) said it probably wasn't going to make it," said Baker. "I was convinced the cat was dead when she brought her here."
Unsure whether the kitten was still alive, Baker put her on a heating pad and brought her to the Dumb Friends League at 2080 S. Quebec St. for treatment.
"She was gasping for air when she was actually breathing," said Baker. "I think if she had been out another half an hour, there's no way she would have made it."
When the kitten arrived at the Dumb Friends League, her prognosis wasn't much better.
"Her temperature was not even registering on the thermometer, so it was below 90 degrees," said Dumb Friends League Health Care Supervisor Morgan Schneider. "We put little booties on her and had a hair dryer."
The kitten mittens didn't do much at first. Veterinary staff even placed her in a bed of heating pads and warming bottles and administered warm IV fluids to get her temperature up.
"Even after about 45 minutes, her temperature still was not registering on the thermometer, so it was still below 90 degrees," said Schneider.
After more than an hour of treatment, the kitten finally began to perk up and vets were able to stabilize her temperature and feed her some food.
"The most recent temperature was 102, so it was great," said Schneider at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
She said cats temperatures should be around 101.5 degrees.
"I'm shocked. I'm blown away. Cannot believe she's OK," said Baker.
When her friend brought the cat to Baker's house, she was in a box that had the name, "Tom Jones" written on the side.
"We didn't know it was a female, and so we've been calling her Tom Jones all day," said Baker.
At the Dumb Friends League, the veterinary staff changed the kitten's name to Elsa, based on the Disney "Frozen" character.
"We figured that would be a nice theme being from the Frozen movie, but also since she obviously has a fighting spirit," said Schneider.
Elsa will eventually go up for adoption once she is healthy enough, assuming no one has proof that the cat belongs to them.
Spokeswoman Megan Rees said, with the cold weather, the Dumb Friends League has seen an increase in lost cats being brought to the shelter.
If someone is concerned about a dog or cat that is left outside, they are encouraged to bring it to their nearest animal shelter.
-- Winter Pet Care --
The Dumb Friends League offered the following tips to remind pet owners to take extra precautions to protect your pets when the temperature drops:
- Make sure all pets have a warm place to sleep in the house, off the floor and away from drafts. Kittens and older cats will appreciate a heated pad or bed (readily available at pet supply stores).
- Don't leave tiny, short-haired, or very young or old dogs outside without supervision. Warm sweaters or doggy coats will keep them comfortable on walks. Long-haired, larger dogs and those with double coats (like the Nordic breeds) may enjoy the cold and snow, but they, too, should live primarily indoors with the family.
- Dogs that spend time outdoors need plenty of fresh water available. They can't burn calories without water, and if they can't burn calories, they can't keep warm. Also, use a tip-resistant, ceramic or hard plastic water bowl rather than a metal one; when the temperature is low, a dog's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
- Keep your dog's coat well groomed. Matted fur won't protect her from the cold.
- After a walk, wipe her feet, legs and stomach area to prevent ingestion of salt or dangerous chemicals. For your own walkways, use a pet-friendly ice-melt product.
- Never let dogs off leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Make sure they are always wearing ID tags and have a microchip.
- Check your garage and driveway for antifreeze and other chemicals. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that attracts animals. Wipe up any spills right away. Better yet, use pet-safe antifreeze, which is made with propylene glycol. If ingested in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife or your family.
- Never leave a pet alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
- If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on your car hood or honk the horn before starting the engine. In their search to stay warm, outdoor cats often take refuge next to a warm car engine or tire.
- Keep snow from piling up high next to your fence. A packed snowdrift will provide a boost for dogs to escape the confines of your yard.
- Consider the amount of exercise your dogs receive during colder weather, and adjust their food supply accordingly. Inside and lazy? Less food. Outside and active? More food may be needed to produce more body heat. Consult your veterinarian to be sure.
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