Just like cold weather can be hard on humans, it can also be harsh on cats. That’s why it is important to protect your cat always from the cold spell. The best prescription for winter’s woes is to keep your cat indoors with your family.
But there are many false beliefs out there about cats and cold weather. Even in mild winter, you still need to take a lot of precautions to keep your kitties in good condition.
There are many facts you need to know about cats and cold weather, including:
1. Cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia
You might have heard people say that a cat’s coat is enough to keep them warm in cold weather. But that’s not always true because while some cat coats are more adapted to cold weather, cats are usually susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.
If you leave your cat outdoors in cold weather, they stand the risk of developing hypothermia. This condition is characterized by a drop in body temperature below 100 °F (37.8 °C).
Generally, the normal temperature of a cat should be about 102 °F (38.9 °C), but this temperature can vary with breed.
Cats usually develop frostbite on their eats and paw pads, but this can occur anywhere on the cat’s body depending on which part is exposed to cold temperatures for a long time.
2. Your garage is not the best place for cats in cold weather
Some cat owners say “if I leave my cat to stay in the garage overnight, they will be fine even in cold weather,” but what about the dangers associated. The antifreeze leaking from a car or stored in the garage is toxic to cats if mistakenly ingested.
But many animals including cats tend to get attracted to antifreeze. They may lick it off their fur or paws as part of grooming, and this is dangerous.
Apart from antifreeze, the chemicals used to melt ice are also toxic to cats. So if you store them in your garage, you put your cat at risk of dangers.
Another thing to note is that your cat may seek shelter in your car’s engine or wheel coverings. So be sure to always give your car’s engine a few good knocks before starting it. Don’t kill your cat with your own hands.
3. Cats may not survive cold weather comfortable for humans
The fact that you’re comfortable when it is 50 °F (10 °C) outside does not mean your cat will do well at that temperature too.
Although there isn’t a set temperature that is described as too cold for all buts, when the temperature hits 32 °F (0 °C), the risk for frostbite and hypothermia becomes very high.
However, several factors determine which temperature is too cold for a cat and which are comfortable, including:
- The overall health of the cat: cats suffering from diseases conditions like arthritis may be in deep pain when cold sets in.
- Access to food and water: Cats that are well-fed deal with cold more than cats struggling to find food to eat. Water availability is also important in determining how a cat’s body reacts to cold weather.
- Access to appropriate shelter: Cats that have a place they can safely stay to block cold winds tend to deal better with cold weather.
- Knowledge of their environment: Cats that are familiar with their environment and know where to find shelter, food, and water adapt more easily to cold weather. But if an indoor-only cat escapes out the door during cold weather, they may feel quite helpless and lost.
4. Cold cars are dangerous for cats
You may be tempted to leave your cats unattended in the car while you attend to some urgent tasks, but cold cars can be as dangerous as a hot one.
Always see it this way- If hot weather can turn your car into an oven, a cold one would turn it into a refrigerator. Leaving your cat in the car in cold weather can make them hypothermic quickly.
The best thing to do is to limit your cat’s car rides whenever the weather is cold outside.
5. You can provide much help to your feral cat
Don’t think because feral cats prefer to stay outdoors during cold weather, they cannot be helped. You may not be able to provide them with the luxuries you provide for your indoor cats, but there are things you can do to help your feral cats.
To build a shelter for them, you can use inexpensive options like Styrofoam, rubber totes, and straw. This way, your feral cat gets a clean, dry place to seek shelter during cold weather.
The interesting part is that the heat from their own body can be used to keep the shelter warm and livable.
Another way to help your feral cats is to provide them with food and freshwater. Besides, always remember to change these as often as possible because they can easily freeze in cold weather. If you like, you can get insulated bowls to help keep your feral cat’s water in its liquid form.
Important Tips to Remember
During winter, always see it as a necessity to keep your cat warm and safe. The facts above should guide you in making good decisions. However, the following tips are also helpful for keeping your cat healthy during the colder months:
- Supplement your cat’s diet with essential fatty acids during the winter season. This helps them to grow a thicker coat to regulate their body temperature.
- Give your cat vitamin B complex and vitamin E to help strengthen their tissues to be more resistant to cold. However, be careful to avoid imbalances in diet and medical problems.
- Keep the fireplaces screened and don’t allow your cat to lie too close to the fire to prevent hot cinders and sparks.
- Be gentle with arthritic and elderly cats during the winter. They might get extremely stiff and tender joints, and this can make them awkward. You may need to stay directly below these cats when they are jumping onto furniture or climbing stairs. Also, you can modify the environment to make things easier for them around the house.
- Provide a warm place for your cat to sleep, preferably off the floor. You can use a cardboard box or basket and lay a warm blanket in it. If your cat prefers to sleep on the floor, you can provide them with a warm and comfortable cat bed or mat.
- As you prepare to go for a vet visit, always remember to keep a hot water bottle in the carrier. Another good tip is to dry the cat’s bed a few minutes before placing them in the carrier. You can block draughts in the carrier using a cover or towel.
Cats can be in great danger when exposed to cold weather, but with some measures, as discussed above, you can help your cat cope with the winter months without any serious health effects.