Cold Weather Tips For Cats

As winter arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures drop, and just like for humans, the lifestyles of cats change. Cold weather can negatively impact the well-being of cats in several ways, but luckily there are steps you can take to mitigate these effects.

Winter impacts cats that spend any appreciable amount of time outside the most, and the combination of low temperatures, wind, and snow/ice can predispose cats to hypothermia and frostbite. The best way to avoid these problems is always to keep cats indoors. For those cats that cannot be kept indoors, it is important to provide shelter from the cold, wind, and precipitation by either providing access to purpose-built shelters or to indoor environments with adequate bedding (straw is a good choice, avoid newspaper, cloth, and hay), food, and water. Measures should be taken to prevent the water from freezing (i.e., solar water heater, using thick plastic bowls rather than shallow ceramic bowls), and if possible, the shelter should be raised off the ground to avoid body heat loss into the ground. It's also important to realize that cats burn more calories to stay warm in the winter, so feeding them a bit more than during the warm weather months will help them avoid losing weight.

Another issue to consider is automotive hazards that cold weather may expose cats to. Since car engines generate heat and outdoor cats are constantly seeking warmth, cats can be injured when they seek warmth in the wheel wells and/or engine compartments of cars, and owners unknowingly start their cars and drive away. It's a good idea to check the wheel wells of your car and to either honk your horn or bang on your vehicle's hood before starting it, to prompt any cats seeking shelter in the engine compartment to leave.

Finally, winterizing cars with antifreeze puts cats at risk because it is extremely toxic to cats if ingested, and its taste is attractive to cats. To minimize this risk, keep all antifreeze well contained and out of reach of cats and promptly clean up any antifreeze spills and leaks.

Taking these simple steps can help cats experience a better quality of life during cold weather.

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