How to Keep a Stray Cat Warm Outside in Winter

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Dietary Dilemmas:

When the mercury drops and the winter chill sets in, will you need to change your cat’s diet in any way to help them cope with the cold weather?

“Your cat’s dietary requirements are affected mostly by their age, gender, level of activity and whether they are pregnant or lactating (feeding kittens).

The outside temperature will have less of an effect compared to these factors, “Explain Dr Bronwen Slack, PET stock VET Operations Coordinator. If your cat is mostly indoors in winter and curled up near the heater, they may not need to eat any extra calories.”

Sydney small animal veterinarian Dr James Crowley points out that winter has more of an effect on a cat’s dietary requirements in colder parts of the world. “Recent studies in the UK demonstrated that cats do eat more during the winter due to the extra energy needed to keep warm when outside, but this may not apply as much to the warmer temperatures in Australian winters. I guess it depends on the cat’s lifestyle.

Cold Winter Nights:

The weather is coldest in the depths of the night, so it’s essential to make sure your kitty has somewhere warm and dry to sleep all night long. “Cats are very adept at maintaining their own body heat – they will naturally seek out warm areas of the house to stay comfortable, “Dr James says.

You may also want to consider investing in a heated cat bed to help your feline friend enjoy a snug and cosy night’s sleep. “I love using a self – warming bed for my gorgeous kitty in winter,” Dr Bronwen explains.

“This allows him to sleep on the bed if he is feeling cold, or to move off if he starts to feel too warm. Alternatively, you could pop a nice warm polar fleece blanket into your cat’s bed for him to snuggle up in on colder days.”

The Ache of Arthritis:

Any person with arthritis will tell you that they really feel the pain in the colder months – and it’s exactly the same for your cat. If your pet suffers from arthritis, it is likely that they will feel more discomfort during winter.

“Cats will hide this better than dogs, so keep a closer eye on them, “Dr Bronwen Says. “They may spend more time in bed, move around more slowly or avoid jumping onto or off furniture. It is always a good idea to visit with your vet before the cold weather starts to discuss what arthritis treatment options may be suitable for your pet.”

While there no cure for arthritis, Dr James points out that your vet has several options at their disposal to help manage your cat’s discomfort. “Options include anti – inflammatory, joint – health injections (cartilage building blocks), nutritional supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, fish oils), acupuncture, prescription diets course good weight control, “he Says.

Outdoors or In:

One common question among first – time cat owners is whether or not it’s safe to let their cat stay outside during winter. The truth is that no matter what time of year it is, cats that spend more time outdoors have a higher risk of getting into trouble.

“They may get into a fight with a neighborhoods cat and develop a cat bite abscess, “Dr Bronwen says. “They may injure themselves from a fall or run in front of a car. They may develop skin cancer from excessive exposure to the sun, even in winter. In summer they can develop hyperthermia (overheating) if they cannot find somewhere to cool down. Conversely, in winter they may suffer from hypothermia (becoming too cold) if they cannot find somewhere warm to sleep. It is always safest to keep your cat indoors and away from danger throughout the year.”

Winter – Proof Your Home:

With winter fast approaching, now is the time to take a few simple steps to help make your home safer and more comfortable for your cat this winter. You can:

  • Raise your cat’s bed so that it avoids draughts.
  • If your cat has arthritis, provide easier access to her favorite perches and sleeping spots.
  • Make sure your cat’s litter box isn’t in a freezing room of the house, for example the garage.
  • During daylight hours, cats love to seek out sunny spots in the house, so be sure to open the curtains.
  • Make sure there are no droughts coming in at your cat’s favorite window perch locations.

With a careful approach to looking after your cat in the colder months and plenty of love and attention, your kitty will not only survive but thrive during winter.

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