It is your first time to spend winter with your pet. You are curious to know whether he will enjoy frolicking in the winter wonderland that your backyard has become. Or will he prefer the warmth and comfort of his spot near the fireplace?
Do cats like snow?
Whether a cat likes snow depends heavily on your cat. Some felines, driven by their innate curiosity, enjoy playing in the snow. Others will dart back quickly into the comfort of their homes, put off by the texture of the snow.
The only real way to know whether your pet will like snow is to let him outside. However, practice sound judgment when introducing your cat to snow. If it is snowing heavily, do not let your cat out, even for a few minutes. Wait until the snowfall becomes lighter or stops altogether.
When you let your cat out, be sure that you stay there with him. Allow him to investigate his new surroundings. If it looks like he is not enjoying the snow or if he seems to be experiencing some discomfort from the freezing temperatures, be ready to let him back into your home.
Ensuring your cat’s safety during winter
If your pet spends a part of his day wandering outdoors, you have to take the necessary precautions to ensure his safety during winter.
1. Provide an outdoor shelter for your cat.
If for some reason or another, your cat cannot get inside your home, he should have an area where he can run to so that he can get relief from the cold weather. You do not need to invest in something costly or fancy. An empty box or extra crate will do. To give your pet added warmth and comfort, put some warm blankets or even an extra cat bed inside the box or crate. Place the crate in an area that offers protection from high winds and snow, like the garage.
2. Increase your cat’s calorie intake.
As the weather becomes cooler, you should provide your cat with more food. The cold weather makes your cat’s body consume more energy so that he can maintain his core body temperature. Consult your vet to know how much additional food your cat will need during winter.
3. Check and clean your cat’s paws.
Every time your cat gets home after spending time outdoors, be sure to check and clean his paws. Chemicals like potassium, sodium, and magnesium which are typically used to melt ice in sidewalks can be harsh on cat paws. Worse, if your cat licks his paws after stepping on a sidewalk treated with these chemicals, his tummy can become upset.
As soon as your cat gets home, check his paws for signs of injuries or irritation, and then clean his paws by wiping a moist towel on them. If you need to melt the snow on your property, consider using a urea-based product that is safer for cats.
4. Always check the cat flap.
Sometimes, the cat flap you have installed on your door can get frozen or blocked after a heavy snowfall. And that last thing that you want is for your freezing cat to get trapped outdoors. Be sure to check the cat flap regularly to ensure that your pet can get in and out of your home without trouble.
5. Double-check your car.
Before starting your car, make it a habit to check under the hood. In search of warmth, cats can go under a car’s hood, attracted by the heat generated by the engine. If you fail to check under the hood and a cat is hiding there, the results can be fatal.
The simplest way to check for the presence of a cat in the engine compartment is to give the hood a knock. Alternatively, you can blow your car’s horn to alert any cat hidden beneath the hood.
You also need to make sure that you keep the antifreeze you use for the car’s radiator is kept in a safe place that your cat cannot reach. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol that is toxic to cats. Even a small amount of this chemical can cause kidney problems. Worse, ethylene glycol has a sweet taste that can attract the attention of household pets. If you need to top up the antifreeze in your car, check for spills and clean these if there are any.
Keeping your cat warm and safe indoors
Whether your cat goes outdoors or stays indoors exclusively, there are a few things that you can do to keep him warm and safe inside your home.
Invest in a heated cat bed.
The cold weather can worsen a cat’s arthritis symptoms. To lessen your cat’s discomfort during winter, consider investing in a heated cat bed.
Maintain a safe distance between your cat and heat sources.
Cats are naturally drawn to indoor heat sources because they crave warmth. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they descended from desert-dwelling wild cats. If you are going to use space heaters or woodburning stoves, do not leave your cat in the room unsupervised. Otherwise, he can get burned or knock over these heat sources and cause fires.
One way you can maintain a safe distance between your cat and these heat sources is to use a pet deterrent mat. Alternatively, you can spray water to your cat whenever he attempts to get near these.
Holiday travels and your cat
If you are traveling for the holidays and you cannot bring your cat with you, you need to book his accommodations at the local boarding facility. Be sure to book as early as possible to ensure your cat has a guaranteed spot. Alternatively, you can look for pet sitters in your area.
If you can bring your cat with you, find out the special requirements that you might need to satisfy, especially if you are booking a hotel or traveling by air. For example, you might need to update your pet’s vaccines or you might need to present a health certificate.
If you have not yet bought a pet carrier for your cat, buy one that is appropriate for his size.
Pack your cat’s needs, including medications in a separate bag so that you can easily access these.
Do cats get hypothermia?
Cats can get hypothermia, even those with thick fur. But what exactly is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a condition where a cat’s body temperature drops because of his inability to generate enough heat. The condition usually arises when a feline is exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period.
Among the symptoms to watch out for are:
- Muscular weakness
- Shallow breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Dilation of the eyes
- Loss of consciousness
If your cat is suffering from hypothermia, dry him off and wrap him in a towel to increase his body temperature. Afterward, bring him to the vet for the appropriate treatment. Hypothermia is a serious medical condition that requires immediate professional attention.
Winter safety is essential for your cat
Whether your cat enjoys the snow or not, what is more important is to ensure his comfort and safety during winter. If you allow your cat to go out, take the necessary precautions to prevent him from succumbing to hypothermia, injuries, and other disorders associated with winter.
Image: istockphoto.com / Gelner Tivadar