I read this many years ago in a collection of sci-fi stories - almost certainly Silverberg & Greenberg's Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century.
An cat-like alien race decides to terraform an snowy, "uninhabited" planet to replace their own, but the terraforming process takes many lifetimes, so they enter cryogenic sleep for the duration of the terraforming. A slight complication arises when it is realized that a semi-intelligent species (dwarves?) already inhabits the planet, and that the terraforming process will drive them to extinction.
Jerry (I think?), a member of the colonizing aliens, is assigned watch duty where he awakens from cryogenic sleep for a duration. I recall him also being in love with another colonizer, who remains in hibernation. On his patrol, he meets the native dwarves and develops a liking for them. He decides to forgo resuming hibernation, and instead lives out the remainder of his life among the dwarves, whom he helps to be come intelligent. The other colonizers, upon awaking from their hibernation, find an intelligent species of dwarves, who have been deeply impressed by Jerry's contribution.
I'm pretty certain of most of these details, but can't remember the author or title.