If this is your first winter owning a cat, there are a few precautions you are going to need to do in order to keep your cat both warm and safe.
How Cold Weather Affects Your Cat
If you leave your cat outside in the cold weather, they will be able to keep themselves warm for a little while. However, over time, they are going to have a difficult time regulating their body temperature if they are outside in the cold for too long.
When exposed to the cold for an extended period of time. It is not uncommon for cats to develop hypothermia. When your cat experiences hypothermia, they first start to shiver and get lethargic. As the hypothermia deepens, your cat's muscles will get stiff, then your cat's breathing and heart will slow down. If left untreated, your cat could die. Additionally, your cat can also get frostbite when left outside when it is extremely cold outside.
Just like you would not go outside unprotected, or leave a child outside in the cold, nor should your cat be left to fend for itself in the cold.
How To Keep Your Outdoor Cat Safe
If your cat is an outdoor cat, you should allow it to continue to spend time outside as the temperature start to change. This will help your cat develop a thicker coat of fur and will help your cat's immune system adjust to the change in temperature.
Modify your cat's outdoor shelter. Make sure that it is raised off the ground; place it on a cement slab or wooden platform. The frozen dirt will make your cat's shelter cold. You also need to make sure that the entrance is protected from the wind by facing it towards the nearest building and putting up a flexible door your cat can do through. Put a heat lamp inside of your cat's shelter as well, and give your cat extra bedding.
Make sure that your cat always has access to food and water. Keep their food and water somewhere where it will not freeze, and check it every day when it drops below freezing to make sure your cat has access to clean water.
Encourage your cat to come inside and warm up as much as possible. If you can, try to see if your outdoor cat will become an indoor cat for the winter months.
How To Keep Your Indoor Cat Safe
If your cat already lives indoors most of the time, winter should not be a big adjustment.
Make sure that you keep your house warm when you leave for the day so that your cat stays warm. If you don't want to heat your entire house when you are not home, place your cat in a specific room and keep that room heated when you are not at home. Be sure to put water and a kitty litter box in that room as well for your cat to access.
Move your cat's bed off the floor, and put it somewhere elevated during the winter months. This will help protect your cat from the cold drafts on your floor. If your cat is older and has stiffer joints, make sure you provide objects for your cat to climb onto to access their bed. Jumping can be hard on older cats, especially in the winter when the cooler weather makes their joints even more inflexible.
Cats can get hypothermia and frostbite when exposed to the cold for too long just like humans can, which is why it is vital that you can the precautions above to protect your cat from these winter hazards.www.metrocathospital.com