Brrrr! It is cold out there! Pretty much everyone in the USA is seeing some extremely low temperatures. Even Miami is only at 65°F according to the Weather Channel, which is quite chilly in a city known for heat. Those of us up here in Michigan and our friends in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and upstate New York would love just to get back into the positive.
If we’re cold, that means our kitties are cold too. Thick fur does provide them some protection from the cold weather, but it doesn’t keep them from suffering in extreme temperatures. Cats, just like humans, can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Here are 8 tips that will help you to make sure your cat stays safe and well during the winter season:
- The best tip available: Keep your cats indoors. Keeping your cat indoors with you is the best way to know that your cats are receiving the same protection from the elements that you are.
- Keep cats a safe distance from open heat sources. Cats are heat magnets and will get as close to a heat source as they can. To avoid any potential burns, watch cats around open fire places, space heaters, and wood burning stoves.
- Bang on the car’s hood before you turn the engine on. Even if you keep your cat indoors, there may be a neighbor’s cat or a feral cat who has decided to keep warm under the hood of your car. The fan blade in your engine could cause serious harm or death to any animals tucked away in there.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. Frostbitten skin will be pale, cold to the touch, lacking sensitivity, and may be glossy. Just like in humans, signs of frostbite will begin at the extremities and areas of the body that are the least insulated (ears, tail, pawpads, etc). This can set in very quickly! The ASPCA estimates that pets can not withstand exposure cold weather for more than 10 or 15 minutes. If your cat gets frostbite, use WARM water (not hot) to warm the area gently and go immediately to the veterinarian.
- Clean up and properly store antifreeze. Cats like the taste of antifreeze, but it is very toxic to them. If your car leaks antifreeze or you spill any from a container, make sure that it is properly cleaned up. Keep antifreeze bottles tightly closed and stored where cats can’t easily get to them. If you think your cat has ingested any antifreeze, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s poison control line right away (888-426-4435). Note that there may be a $65 consultation fee for calling the ASPCA.
- If your cat must go outside, towel off their body when they return indoors. Try to dry them and remove any salt or ice melting chemicals from their paws and belly. You don’t want the cat to clean those things off themselves and ingest potentially dangerous substances!
- If you bring the cat on a car ride, do not leave them out in the car! We’ve all gotten into a car in the winter and noticed how much it can resemble a refrigerator with seats. It can get really cold, really fast. Don’t take the chance that your kitty will end up with hypothermia or frostbite.
- If you see any animal cruelty in your area, report it. Neglect is cruelty. Letting an animal freeze to death is cruelty.Most states have laws regarding the proper treatment of animals in cold weather. If a neighbor has left an animal outside in the elements without proper food, water (not frozen), and shelter (large enough to fit in and lay down comfortably but small enough to retain body heat), it counts as cruelty. First try calling your local police and they may be able to offer their assistance or direct you to the proper authority. Another option is to contact your local animal shelter and report the situation to them.
Stay safe and warm everybody! Cuddle up with your kitties 🙂 A post on helping feral cats in the winter is underway.