Cats generally adapt quite well in cold weather, but when the temperature drops below freezing, they need our intervention and help. Our feline friends need more than just their fur to keep them warm during the cold winter months. Protect your cat from extreme cold by following these 6 tips.
Winter Care Tip #1: Brush that fur.
A feline’s fur is a good insulator that helps a cat to stay warm. Cats have an undercoat of soft and downy fur and a topcoat of rougher fur which aids in deflecting wind and rain. If you have a long-haired cat, it is recommended to comb her coat at least once a day. As for short-haired cats, brushing them twice or three times per week is enough.
Brushing your cat’s coat frequently will prevent it from getting knots and tangles. Most importantly, it redistributes natural oils which keeps their coats healthy and shiny. As a result, your cat will have a smooth coat without mats that trap air more effectively, making it a great insulator.
Winter Care Tip #2: Build a cat shelter.
If you happen to live in rented accommodation without a cat flap, make sure that your cat has a safe haven that will keep her warm when she goes outside during the day. Create an outdoor protective shelter to safeguard her from the cold. Below are simple steps on how to build a DIY cat shelter:
What you need:
- Styrofoam cooler
- Rubbermaid tote
- Duct tape
- X-Acto knife
Once you have completed building the shelter, place it in an area that is far away from foot traffic. Keep it raised off the ground by a few inches by placing it on top of a wood pallet. It reduces the chances of the shelter getting wet and prevents bugs from climbing up inside.
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Winter Care Tip #3: Place enough beddings.
The most vital part of keeping your cat warm outdoors is through placing ample amounts of bedding inside the shelter. It helps in providing insulation and retaining the heat. You can use mylar blankets or straw as bedding. Avoid using hay, fabric towels and blankets since these soaks in moisture, which makes it uncomfortable for cats to rest on. You can also line the interior of the cat shelter with old newspapers which will act as an extra windbreaker.
Winter Care Tip #4: Offer warm food.
Cats use up extra energy when they try to stay warm during cold winter months. The more energy they spend, the more calories their body needs. Thus, make sure that your cat is getting enough food. Generally, an adult cat can consume about 200 calories a day. This is equivalent to around 5.5 ounces of wet food with an additional ounce of dry food a day.
When feeding your cat, you can warm up the food first. It will provide a ‘central heating’ for her. If possible, purchase a heated pet dish to help in keeping her food warm.
Winter Care Tip #5: Do not forget to provide her water, not ice.
Ensure that there is always fresh water available for your cat. Change her water daily. Try placing your cat’s water bowl near heat sources like pipes or grates so the water won’t easily freeze. Consider buying a heated pet bowl or silicone camping bowls.
Winter Care Tip #6: Beware of red flags in your cat’s behaviour.
The winter season can get too cold for your feline friend. If exposed to low temperatures for extended periods, your cat can suffer from hypothermia. Since felines are good at hiding health problems, the early signs of hypothermia include shivering, cold skin, lethargy, stiff muscles, dilated pupils, and difficulty in breathing. If your cat is showing any of these signs, bring her to the vet immediately.