This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CATS THIS WINTER
As any cat owner knows, cats are pretty smart, and they know how to look after themselves. But winter brings with it some special challenges for our furry friends and there are unfamiliar dangers to be guarded against. How your cat copes with winter will depend on age and breed. Young cats who haven’t encountered snow or freezing temperatures before need especially looking out for. Likewise older cats, who’ve slowed down are more likely to be susceptible to hypothermia. Most breeds develop a thicker winter coat when it starts to get cold but some breeds, such as Siamese or Manx may need the added protection of a cat coat.
Inside or out
If your cat is an outdoorsy roamer you may find that the cold weather is no deterrent and that they continue with their usual habits. However many cats, sensible creatures that they are, will choose to stay indoors. If your cat does choose to cosy up inside for the winter months, it’s important to ensure that they remain stimulated and active. So provide them with a variety of toys and encourage your cat to play with them.
Even if your cat is keen to go outside in all weathers, in extreme weather conditions it is wise to close the cat flap and keep your cat safe inside. Make sure that you have an indoor litter tray, even if your cat is used to one outside and make sure they have plenty of food and water, as cats burn more calories when it’s cold.
Winter time is accident time
Just like humans, cats are more accident prone in the winter. Even an agile cat can misjudge icy conditions and come a cropper. Antifreeze splashed around attracts cats because it tastes sweet to them. If ingested, it will make your cat very ill and may even prove fatal. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, twitching muscles, increased urination and thirst.
Cats are also particularly attracted to the warm engines of stationary cars in winter. They will crawl underneath to benefit from the warmth. For this reason, it is important to always check your car before starting.
Cats exposed to extreme low temperatures may even suffer from hypothermia or frostbite. The symptoms of hypothermia are shivering, weakness and shallow breathing. Frostbite attacks the tips of the ears, tail and paws and can be identified by pale or grey discolouration. If your cat falls ill to one of these conditions, cat insurance will ensure that you won’t have to pay all the vet bills yourself, especially during this expensive Christmas period.
Make sure that your cat isn’t locked out in the cold because of a frozen cat-flap. When they do come bounding in, check their paws for ice balls, grit or salt. Come Christmas, keep those Poinsettia out of reach because they are poisonous to cats, and don’t be tempted to let your cat play with tinsel. It may look cute but if they swallow it, you’ll need to take them straight to the vet.