Cat owners who keep their pets safely indoors at all times have fewer worries during the winter months. Cats that are trained to go outside, or whose curiosity lures them into escaping out the door frequently are the ones that require the most monitoring. There are many dangers to animals in the wintertime that have more to do with the time of year and changes in activities than they do the cold weather. Although it’s still a prime concern, there is much more to be aware of to keep your pets safe when the temperatures drop outside. Here are twenty cold weather tips for cat owners, lessen the odds of your cat becoming a victim of winter weather.
1. Keep your cats in the house during freezing weather
The ASPCA cautions that freezing temperatures can be deadly for cats. While many survive cold winters outdoors some do not. Their coats help to shield the animals from freezing temperatures, but they do get cold right through their fur. It’s best to bring them indoors when the temperatures are extreme. If you cannot bring a cat into the house, at least provide a heated shelter for him to get in out of the cold. A garage or lean-to with a heat lamp will provide some relief from the cold weather.
2. Don’t leave your cat alone in the car in winter
It’s never a good idea to leave a cat alone in a vehicle any time of the year. While most people focus on the dangers of summer heat for animals, winter cold can be just as bad. If you leave a cat in a cold car while you’re running errands, you run the risk of him getting too cold, or even freezing to death, depending on the temperatures. You should never leave the vehicle running while you’re shopping because it could create deadly carbon-dioxide fumes.
3. Don’t let your cat make too many trips out in cold weather
If your cat is used to going outside for toileting, try to limit his exposure to the cold. Indoor cats can be more susceptible to the cold because their coats are not as thick as cats exposed to cold temperatures. Your cat could suffer from ill health effects from too much exposure to the cold weather. If he wanders off, he could become disoriented by the cold weather, get lost, and freeze. It’s best to set up a litter box for his toileting and keep your cat indoors when it’s frigid outside.
4. Monitor your cat’s skin condition
Winter weather usually means using more heat sources to keep the home warm. Indoor cats, like people, may suffer from dry and itchy skin because of the dry heat. Check your cat for flaky skin. If you notice that he is scratching more often, he may need your intervention. Consider using a moisturizing lotion that is approved for use on cats, to help relieve any dry skin irritations brought on by the dry heat.
5. Clean your cat’s feet and toes after coming inside
You need to get in the habit of cleaning your cat’s paws when he comes in from outside during the winter months. He will likely walk over sidewalks or driveways that may be treated with ice melt solutions. The chemicals present in these safety materials can be toxic to your cat. You need to clean his feet and in-between his toes immediately after he comes in the house. This will remove all traces of the chemicals before he has a chance to lick them off his paws and ingest them into his body, according to the AVMA.
6. Dry your cat after spending time outside
If the weather is cold and damp outside, it’s a good idea to towel dry your pet when he comes back in. this will remove any snow and ice that has built up on his coat. It will also prevent him from getting his bed wet if he goes there to lie down after his outdoor excursions.
7. Check your cat’s feet for snowballs
You should always check your cat’s toes and paw pads for snowballs and ice after he’s been outdoors in snowy weather. Snow builds up between cat toes quickly. The hard ice can cut the pads and in-between his toes and lead to infections in the skin. It’s a good idea to check the toes and pads after he comes in and remove all traces of ice and snow from his paws and in-between his toes. It’s a sensitive area of your cat’s body that needs special attention.
8. Massage his paws with petroleum jelly
It’s a good idea to massage petroleum jelly into your cat’s paws before you let him go outside during the winter. This puts a protective layer over the skin. It can help to prevent burns from salt or other chemicals used to melt the ice and snow. It will also help to soothe dry skin and keep the moisture in. Booties are not usually an option for cats because they don’t like to have them on their feet, but you can try.
9. Use pet-friendly ice melts
When choosing the solutions you use to melt the ice on your sidewalks and driveways, try to go with pet-friendly products. You may be able to find them at some specialty shops. Pestell is one of the brands that makes ice melt that is not harmful to pets. There are several others you can check out.
10. Make sure your pet gets enough healthy calories
The cold months take a toll on outdoor animals. If your cat spends any amount of time outdoors when it’s cold, he will burn more calories than usual. You may need to increase his calorie intake to compensate. This is especially important for cats who live outside.
11. Check under the hood of your car
Great Plans SPCA cautions that winter is the time when cats love to climb onto the engines of cars and other vehicles. They like the warmth of the engines that remains for a while after the car is turned off. You never know when there may be a sleeping cat in the engine area. Make noise to ensure that there isn’t a sleeping cat inside. Many cats are maimed and killed by fan belts that cut them to pieces.
12. Leave your pets at home in the winter
It’s not a good idea to take your cat along when you leave the home in the wintertime. This is especially true if you’re going places where the cat cannot come inside with you. As we already discussed, it’s not ever a good idea to leave a cat or dog inside the car unattended. Too much can go wrong. Even if you’re just going to visit a relative for a few hours, it’s better to leave your pet in a warm and safe home, rather than dragging him out in the cold.
13. Clean up your driveway
Winter is a time when antifreeze can leak out of radiators and pools in the driveway. Antifreeze is a deadly poison to all animals and humans. It has a sweet taste that attracts cats to it. Just a few licks could result in serious illness or death. It’s best to clean up any spills or runovers that you see and keep your driveway and garage anti-freeze-free.
14. Be prepared for power outages
Better Pet recommends that you prepare for the unexpected during winter. Storms of heavy snow and ice can cause power outages that last for hours, or in some cases, days. Keep emergency supplies on hand in case you need to resort to alternative methods for lighting the home and keeping you and your cat warm. Have a backup plan that provides accommodation for both you and your pets.
15. Give your cat coat and skin supplements
Winter months are hard on the coat and skin of cats. The dry heat takes a terrible toll on their skin. We already talked about rubbing soothing lotion or petroleum jelly on their skin and paws, but there is more you can do. Give them healthy pet supplements with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to help prepare their bodies, coat, and skin. Natural supplements for cats can help their skin to hold its moisture.
16. Humidify the air in your home
Help to ease the discomforts and problems from dry air by humidifying the air in your home. It will be healthier for you and your cat. A humidifier that is set to sixty percent humidifier can help protect your pet’s lungs, skin, and coat from winter damage. Use pure clean water in the humidifier as some essential oils can be dangerous or even toxic for cats. Just enough to replenish a little moisture in the air should make a big improvement in everyone’s health and comfort.
17. Keep your cat hydrated
Cats and humans tend to become dehydrated more so during the winter months. It’s a good idea to get your cat to drink more water. Although it isn’t easy to do, there are a few tricks that might work. Your cat needs to ingest more water when it’s cold outside. The rule of thumb is between three and five ounces for every pound of body weight. One way to get your cat to take on more fluid is to switch from dry to a portion of wet cat food.
18. Avoid bathing your cat in the winter
It’s best to avoid bathing your cat in the coldest winter months. If you must, at least cut down on the number of times you do. Bathing removes natural skin oils and can cause extreme skin and coat dryness. You may want to use a shampoo that contains moisturizer if you must bathe your pet during the cold season.
19. Buy Your cat a heated bed
It’s harder to keep the house warm when it’s frigidly cold outside. When temperatures drop to ridiculous low temperatures, it’s a good idea to have a heated bed available for your cat. A heated bed will give your cat a refuge to retreat to whenever he feels a chill.
20. Keep paw wipes and a dry towel by the door
Our final recommendation for cat owners is to keep a cat assistance kit near the front door. If your cat makes frequent trips in and out of the house, you will need to spend a lot of time inspecting and cleaning his paws. You can cut down on the amount of time and effort it takes by keeping a pack of cat-approved paw wipes and a dry towel near the door. The wipes will remove all ice, snow, and chemicals from his paws. The dry towel is to follow up and dry his feet with the rest of his coat if the weather outside is wet. It’s wise to keep a dry towel and a package of wipes near every door.
These are twenty tips that can help you protect your cat during winter. When the weather turns cold, cats become more vulnerable to accidents and sickness. Winter is a time when everything changes. It’s your job as a responsible pet parent to see that they are safe and well-protected. The tips cover the most common pitfalls for pet owners in the wintertime. Keep your pet safe with knowledge and planning, and avoid the problems that can happen when the air is cold. Your pet is more vulnerable than ever, but he has you to keep him safe and warm.