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Here they are: 21 tips to protect your cat from the cold!
Winter is coming and maybe you are worried about your cat’s health in case of a cold snap. An open window, a draught, or your cat getting out of your home to taste the winter coolness.
Don’t worry, your cat is much more resistant to the cold than you are. Already because of a body temperature that is a good degree higher than human (101°F), but also because of reflexes conducive to warm paws and coat as soon as the cold is felt, especially since he has a rather thick undercoat.
Resistance to Cold Depends on your Cat’s Lifestyle
It goes without saying that if your cat is used to staying between the 4 walls of your home, its resistance to temperature changes will be less.
Basically, a cat doesn’t appreciate going from hot to cold in an instant.
It is recommended, if you give your cat a bath, to dry him well with a towel and to leave him in the heated room before going out.
On the other hand, if your cat is used to frolicking in the wild when it’s windy, rainy or snowy, don’t worry. Just make it easier for him to get back inside.
Find out how to give your cat a warm winter!
1. Adapt his Diet
The diet of a sedentary cat that rarely hangs outdoors does not need to be changed during the off-season since the animal’s needs do not vary.
By spending most of his time indoors, in the warmth of the house, he doesn’t really have the opportunity to face the cold weather and therefore, his energy expenditure is rather moderate.
Feeding it too much in winter, or giving it a rich diet, can lead to a completely useless weight gain.
On the other hand, you can adapt your cat’s food if he is a great adventurer who doesn’t hesitate to spend time outside every day, even when the temperatures are below zero.
For a cat that lives outdoors a lot in winter, we recommend giving him a more energetic food so that it meets his body’s needs perfectly.
The principle is simple: just give him more fish and meat than in the summer because these foods are rich in proteins.
Do not forget to give him enough to drink. Water consumption must be sufficient to accompany a protein diet, and this also helps to keep the animal well hydrated.
2. Install a Cat Flap
The cat flap is an ultra-practical accessory dedicated to your cat’s freedom and to his or her comings and goings in full autonomy.
He will appreciate going home as soon as it is too cold to go out and walk around as usual.
3. Look for a Ray of Sunshine Before Going Out
Although not mandatory for a cat, you may want to take him for a walk. Do not change the frequency of these walks because of the extreme cold.
With both of you well covered, it is important to continue your outings, even if they are shortened, and to choose the best time of day.
4. Protect his Pads
In winter, don’t hesitate: protect your cat’s paws as much as possible, especially the paw pads which remain sensitive parts in summer and winter.
Your pet has just spent some time in the snow? Do you think he might have walked on snow removal salt? To avoid frostbite on the paw pads, remember to rinse his paws.
Some ointments and other repairing balms are also quite effective, to be applied before each outing.
If necessary, run them under warm water.
For other parts of your pet’s body, don’t hesitate to use a towel to get rid of the small blocks of ice that can form in the hair.
And if your cat allows himself to do so, you can also use a hair dryer or a cat dryer, but in moderation to avoid burning him!
5. Place his Bed Near a Heat Source
Although your cat usually doesn’t like change, he won’t mind a bed closer to a heat source, especially in case of extreme cold. You can also add an extra comforter.
6. Make him Drink
To cope with the cold, but also with the heat produced by the radiators in your home, you will make sure that your cat is not dehydrated.
If your cat eats and drinks outside, make sure his bowl is not frozen.
7. Avoid Drafts
It is known, the cold awakens muscle or joint pain. If your four-legged friend suffers from osteoarthritis or rheumatism, avoid leaving him/her in areas of the house where there are many drafts.
For example, move his favorite basket next to a radiator so he can rest comfortably. And don’t hesitate to cover him with a small blanket…
8. Beware of Ear Infections
Cats with trained ears are more likely than others to develop ear infections when it starts to get cold. To avoid this, consider applying a protective cream to her earlobes every day.
9. Watch his Weight
The cold of winter does not always make you want to go for long walks outside. For animals, it is the same. They are less active at this time of the year while eating the same amount of food and tend to gain weight.
To avoid this, don’t hesitate to stimulate your hairball with indoor games (obstacle course, hide-and-seek, education sessions, cat tree…).
10. Beware of Salt!
Salt used to remove snow from roads and sidewalks is particularly harmful to dogs and cats.
Not only is it important to make sure that they do not ingest it, otherwise they could be victims of intoxication, but it is also necessary to remember to rinse their paws well after an outing to avoid any risk of irritation.
11. The Reverberation of the Sun
As for humans, the sun that reverberates on the snow can burn the eyes of our dear animals. Problem: they don’t have sunglasses.
If you plan to take your kitty to ski, don’t let her frolic too long in the snow.
12. Snow Ingestion
It is well known that cats love to ingest anything that goes under their snout. Snow is one of their little pleasures.
Unfortunately, too much of it can cause violent diarrhea.
In the winter, masters are generally less active and so are the animals. Boredom can then quickly set in and sometimes even cause depression.
There is only one solution: play, play, and play some more!
14. Cold Cars
In summer, a cat left alone in a car can quickly die from asphyxiation and dehydration. In fact, the car acts like a furnace.
But in winter, the same advice applies. Leaving an animal in an icy car can cost him or her his or her life because the car can act like a real freezer.
15. The Common Cold
Yes, an animal can, just like us, catch a cold. All it takes is too much exposure to humidity to catch a little cold.
So remember to dry your cat if it is wet and cold outside.
And above all, don’t leave him in the garden without shelter all day long!
16. Fleas and Ticks
You thought you were safe from these damn parasites from November to March?
Think again, fleas and ticks are resistant and moreover they are malignant!
Indeed, they are quite capable of getting into your home to shelter from the cold during the winter period.
So remember to apply an anti-flea and tick treatment to your pet once a month.
17. Check your Cat’s Health on a Regular Basis
When the mercury drops in winter, it is not uncommon for your little feline to develop minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, etc…
After his daily walks, don’t forget to give him a regular check-up: check his legs and observe if he coughs or sneezes.
When the cold arrives, the drop in temperature wakes up joint problems, sometimes resulting in increased pain due to rheumatism and osteoarthritis, pains that affect the joints.
In these cases, please move him away from cold drafts and bring him closer to heat sources such as the radiator or fireplace, your cat will get closer to it by himself if he can.
A visit to the veterinarian is usually not necessary, unless you notice other alarming symptoms.
18. Stay Alert If He Wants to Go Home
For a house cat, winter is not too worrying. On the other hand, if your cat is the adventurous type, he should not be stuck outside.
You should therefore install cat flaps in the shed, barn, or garage to facilitate and control the comings and goings of your tomcat and offer him a warm place when he wants.
19. Warm your Home for your Cat’s Comfort
In winter, the ideal temperature in your home should be between 64 and 68°F for the well-being of your pet.
To prevent your cat from suffering too great a temperature difference, do not set the thermostat too high, unless your female cat has just given birth.
In this case, you can adjust your indoor temperature to 77°F. Be careful, your cat may come and bask near your radiators: make sure they are not hot.
20. Disseminate Blankets
A good way to protect your cat from the cold is to leave warm blankets in several strategic places in the house. This way, he can slip under them whenever he feels the need.
21. Dress your Cat for Winter!
There are breeds of cats that are very fearful of the cold: this is the case for example of those with little hair, such as the Donskoy or the Lykoi, or even some from warm countries, such as the Siamese or the Savannah.
In these cases, it may be useful to use a cat coat, which helps to limit heat loss as soon as the temperature drops.
These clothes are designed to keep warm, but it can be difficult for a small feline to get used to them because they hinder his movements.
They must also be worn in the presence of the owner, as they can be a source of accidents if they get stuck in a branch for example.
But indoors, for a sensitive animal and under the supervision of a person, they can be a good solution to fight against the cold.
However, there do not really seem to be boots for cats, similar to dog shoes designed to protect their pads.
Be Attentive to your Cat’s Fragility When Facing the Cold
Just like humans, not all cats tolerate the cold in the same way. Indeed, some may be more fragile than others depending on their breed, age, state of health and lifestyle.
- Breed: All cat breeds are not equal in terms of resistance to cold. If you own a hairless cat like the Sphynx, Peterbald or Donskoy, it will be less protected against cold and humidity. Conversely, a long-haired cat like the Persian or the Maine Coon, will have a thicker coat to face the winter without worry.
- Age and physical condition can also affect your pet’s resistance. If you own a kitten, an old cat or a sick cat, it will be more fragile than a cat in perfect health. Keep a close eye on it and ask your veterinarian for advice.
- Your cat’s living conditions are also a determining factor. If your cat is accustomed to living outdoors, it will probably be more accustomed to temperature differences and humidity. Don’t hesitate to install a cat flap so that he can go inside and keep warm in case of extreme cold! If your cat is a real apartment cat, do not let him walk outside in winter, he might be exposed to difficult conditions that he is not used to facing.
How Do I Know If my Cat Is Cold?
As in humans, certain signs and attitudes can help to recognize that a cat is cold.
When he suffers from mild hypothermia, that is, his body temperature is simply a little lower than normal, the cat is usually agitated and shaking or even shivering.
His heart beats faster and the tips of his limbs become painful because they are less well oxygenated.
They look for a source of heat (radiator, fireplace, underfloor heating, etc.) or a cloth to curl up in to keep warm.
In the case of intermediate hypothermia, the cat is prostrate, his skin becomes icy and his mucous membranes pale.
He breathes irregularly and his heart rate is much slower, which puts him at risk of bradycardia (i.e. an abnormally low heart rate, which translates into a lack of energy, abnormal shortness of breath, or even discomfort).
Finally, when hypothermia is severe, breathing and heartbeat decrease significantly, to the point where he may eventually fall into a coma.
Eventually death occurs through cardiac or respiratory arrest.
Unfortunately, when a cat feels unwell or vulnerable, such as when it is in a hypothermic situation, it may have the reflex to hide out of sight.
The owner may not always be able to recognize the cat’s condition. It is therefore necessary to try to regularly make sure that his little feline is in great shape, especially when in winter he comes back from a long walk in the cold, or even snow.
In case of doubt, it is better to take his temperature with a thermometer specially designed for this purpose: it is the best way to be fixed and to be able to intervene if necessary.
Protect your Cat from the Cold: The Final Word
Even though some cats have a thick coat and seem to be perfectly equipped to face even the coldest temperatures, cats, like humans, can suffer from the cold.
It is therefore important to keep an eye on your pet during harsh winters, and take a few precautions to make sure he is not at risk of hypothermia or frostbite.
If your cat still comes back frozen from one of his expeditions, or seems to have legs, ears or other parts of the body burned by the cold, you should contact a veterinarian without delay so that he can restore him as well as possible.
How about you? What are your tips to protect your cat from the cold? Don’t hesitate to share them with us by using the comments!