Be a Good Samaritan and Give Them Shelter
Cold weather is challenging for cats. Most cats prefer to stay inside in the winter and despite their fur coats, most of them are as vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia as humans are.
Sadly, many owners still let their cats out in winter, and rescues are routinely called on to help cats that are found frozen to the ground. Frostbite is most likely to occur on a cat’s paw pads and ears but can occur anywhere on the cat’s body when that area is exposed to cold temperatures long enough.
How cold is too cold for cats? Freezing, basically. Generally, when the temperature hits 32°F, the risk to cats of hypothermia and frostbite is high.
Another cold weather risk to cats is antifreeze, a nasty poison. For some mysterious reason, it tastes good to cats, and as little as a teaspoon can be fatal. Ice melters can also be dangerous as the chemicals used can be toxic.
Cars are also an issue both in the usual risk of getting hit by one, and in the lure of warm engines. Cats will often sleep on cars to borrow some of that engine warmth, and sometimes climb up into the engine compartment or wheel wells to shelter from the elements.
During periods of cold weather, cats will go looking for a warm place to hunker down. Building an outside shelter for a cat can be an inexpensive and fun project for the family. The shelter should be large enough that the cat can turn around in it and can be constructed of wood. Plastic bins or coolers with holes cut in the side for an entrance can also be used as shelters. Providing warm bedding inside will help ensure your feline friend can retreat to safety from the bitter cold. Without a safe haven of warmth, cats will go looking for other warm, covered places such as under the hoods of cars. Here, they are protected from the elements and the engine can put off heat hours after it has been turned off, but if the car is started while they are hidden away, they can be severely injured or even killed.
The best way to protect your cat from cold weather is to keep it inside your house.
TIPS FOR KEEPING FELINES SAFE DURING COLD WEATHER
- Provide Shelter:
- If your cat spends time outdoors, make sure it has access to a warm and dry shelter. This could be a cozy insulated DIY cat house or a sheltered area in your garage or shed.
- Limit Outdoor Time:
- Try to limit your cat’s time outdoors during extremely cold weather. If it does go outside, ensure it’s for short periods and they have a way to get back inside quickly.
- Check Paws:
- After your cat has been outside, check its paws for any signs of ice or snow accumulation. Wipe the paws with a damp cloth to remove any salt or chemicals that may be present on sidewalks or roads.
- Provide Fresh Water:
- Ensure your cat has access to fresh water at all times. In cold weather, water sources can freeze, so check and replace the water regularly.
- Warm Meals:
- Consider giving your cat warm meals during colder days. This can help maintain its body temperature.
- Keep your cat well-groomed. A clean and well-brushed coat provides better insulation
- Indoor Entertainment:
- Encourage indoor activities to keep your cat mentally stimulated and physically active during cold weather.
- Check for Signs of Cold Stress:
- Watch for signs of discomfort or stress in your cat, such as shivering, lethargy, or seeking warmth. If you notice any concerning symptoms, consult with your veterinarian.
Remember that not all cats are built for cold weather and some may be more sensitive than others. Monitoring your cat’s behavior will help ensure its safety and well-being during colder months.
RISKS FOR FELINES GOING OUT IN EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER
- Cats can experience hypothermia in extremely cold weather. This occurs when their body temperature drops below normal, leading to lethargy, weakness, and shivering. Severe cases can be life-threatening.
- Cats, like humans, are susceptible to frostbite. Exposed areas such as ears, paws, and the tail can freeze, causing damage to the tissue. Frostbite can lead to pain, swelling, and, in severe cases, tissue death leading to amputation.
- Frozen Water Sources:
- Outdoor cats may find it challenging to access water when temperatures drop, as water sources can freeze. Dehydration becomes a concern if they don’t have access to liquid water.
- Paw Pad Injuries:
- Ice, snow, and cold surfaces can cause injuries to a cat’s paw pads. Sharp ice or frozen surfaces may lead to cuts, abrasions, or even frostbite on their paws.
- Salt and Chemical Exposure:
- In urban areas, salt and de-icing chemicals used on roads and sidewalks can be harmful to cats. These substances can irritate their paws and, if ingested during grooming, may lead to toxicity.
- Reduced Visibility:
- Snow and low temperatures can reduce visibility for both cats and drivers. Cats may be at a higher risk of accidents or getting lost in snowy conditions.
- Hiding in Unsafe Locations:
- Cats might seek shelter in unsafe or hidden locations during cold weather, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, or encounters with predators.
- Reduced Immune Function:
- Prolonged exposure to cold weather can weaken a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to respiratory infections and other illnesses.
Monitoring your cat’s behavior and health during cold weather is essential, and if you notice any signs of distress or illness, consult with a veterinarian promptly. Indoor cats, in particular, may not be acclimated to cold conditions, so extra care is needed if they venture outside.
No animal should endure a cold weather–related death. It’s inexcusable!
The LOOK of Death!
The threat is real!
I’m good, but please look after my feline family near and far.
Keep them inside in cold weather and for the homeless offer them shelter.
With your thoughtfulness and care needless deaths and injuries can be avoided!
Everyone stay warm this fickle Winter!