How To Care for a Cat in Cold Weather

Once you start feeling the cold winds of winter, it’s time to limit your cat’s forays outside the house.  Winter is not a friendly season for cats even with protective fur.  Prolonged exposure to the cold and wet weather can cause hypothermia in cats.  Severe hypothermia may then lead to death.

Cat care during cold weather involves the following:

  1. Keeping your cat indoors.  Let her out only when necessary.  Make sure she is indoors before you turn in at night.
  2. Providing a suitable bed.  Your cat will need a thick and soft bed to sleep on that is off the floor.  Otherwise, place extra cardboards on the floor beneath the cat’s bed.  The location of the bed should be in a warm room free of outside drafts.
  3. Increasing her protein intake.  Protein makes cat’s fur healthy and thick.  Look for food and treats that are protein rich.
  4. Supplementing her diet.  Fortify your cat’s coat by adding essential fatty acids to her food.  This type of fats helps in making your cat’s coat grow thicker.  Fish oils are a hit with cats.  You can also add soybean, canola, or safflower oil and butter to her daily diet.  Also give her additional vitamins E and B-complex.  These help in increasing her resistance to colds.
  5. Drying your cat’s fur when wet.  If you discover that your cat’s fur, for some reason, is wet, dry her immediately.
  6. Being gentle with older cats or those with medical issues.  These cats have a more difficult time during the winter months.  Be extra gentle with them when handling them.  Be on guard when they are jumping up furniture and climbing stairs.
  7. Placing a screen in front of the fireplace.  Cats love to stay where it is warm.  However, if your cat stays too close to the fireplace, hot cinders and sparks can hit her fur.  Fumes emanating from the roaring fire may cause breathing problems and the heat can dry her skin.
  8. Keeping your cat warm when driving to the vet.  You can place a hot water bag or bottle wrapped in a towel in her carrier to keep her warm.  Cover the carrier’s door to block outside draft from coming in.

Hypothermia occurs due to intense cold causing the body’s temperature to drop below normal.  Some signs of hypothermia in cats are:

  • Excessive shivering
  • Slow movement or lethargy
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low hear rate
  • Body weakness
  • Stiff muscles
  • Unresponsive to you or other stimuli
  • Signs of depression

Once hypothermia sets in, her body’s vital organs will not be able to function properly.  Bring her to the vet at once.  If this is not possible, wrap her in warm towels and move your cat to a warm room.  Use a hair dryer at the lowest setting to warm her.  Keep the dryer at a safe distance to avoid burning her body.  Always warm your feline slowly because a sudden change in temperature is harmful for her as well.

Frostbite can also happen to cats.  Certain parts of her body may be affected causing her tissues to freeze. This needs immediate medical attention.  Never rub the affected area so as not to cause any tissue damage.

Caring for your cat during the winter season takes extra effort on your part.  Keep her indoors at all times and bring her outside only when necessary.  With these tips, there’s no reason why you and your cat cannot enjoy the beautiful winter months. 


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