Tuesday, January 5, 2010 4:18 PM

Protecting Your Pet from Old Man Winter: Cats

If you still haven't managed to transition your outdoor cat to the indoor model, you will still need to take steps to protect kitty from the dangers of winter. As with almost anything in life, a little planning will help ward off preventable problems.

Just like dogs, cats that stay outdoors for extended periods in harsh winter weather are at risk of frostbite of the ears, nose and foot pads. Wind chill affects animals, too, as ruffled fur loses much of its insulating qualities. Make sure that your cat has access to a sheltered area, such as a garage, breezeway or enclosed porch. A cat door is easy to install and ensures that your cat will be able to get out of the cold and off of the ice when you are not home. For security's sake, be sure that the door is big enough for your cat but too small for most dogs and humans. To discourage other cats and wildlife from taking advantage of this sanctuary, don't leave food out (water shouldn't be a problem).

The next best thing to having a completely indoor cat is only letting your cat outside when you are home. When we lived in the city suburbs, we would call the cats in even when we were only going to be gone for an hour. Also, winter adds extra dangers for cats that are outside at night, since cars will have trouble stopping on snowy or icy roads. Even for country cats, this can be a problem. My advice? Never let your cats out at night!

Remember that pets that spend time outdoors in cold weather may need their meal portions increased (unless they're overweight). It takes a lot of energy to keep the body warm! Some extra helpings of salmon, for its omega oils, or some nice chicken fat mixed into your pet's food...well, you probably won't have to worry about your cat or dog straying too far from home when they know these tasty treats will be waiting!

Keep warm and chat later! Brrrrr!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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