During winter, devoted cat owners might notice that their feline friends have less energy, eat more and just don’t seem as happy as they usually are in the warmer months.
Like their human companions, pets can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) meaning it’s a good time to be extra diligent about keeping cats warmer, well fed and protected from the elements. From checking in with the vets to adapting your cat’s diet, this article offers valuable tips for making sure your cat is safe, cosy and happy all winter.
When winter sets in, it’s important to make sure your cat is in good health and be aware that cold weather can pose a few health risks to your feline friend. Schedule an appointment with your vet to give your cat a thorough check-up and to confirm your cat is up-to-date on all its vaccinations. If you have noticed any changes or concerns in your cat’s behaviour or condition since it has got colder, mention these and take a proactive approach ahead of the busier festive season.
Whilst cats can’t catch the common human cold virus they are susceptible to cold like symptoms from cat flu and upper respiratory infections. If you are worried, ask your vet to check for any eye discharge, sneezing and coughing. Meanwhile, if you have an older cat, the winter can exacerbate arthritis. Your vet can advise you about any supplements or joint therapies to help protect ageing or arthritic cats, who may struggle to move around as well in the colder months. Addressing arthritis early can really improve the quality of life, so it’s good to know the symptoms of arthritis in cats.
As temperatures fall, it’s important to provide cats with various cosy and comfortable sleeping areas around your home. When you’re out at work and want to minimise your heating bills, create a few makeshift beds by scattering blankets or throws on sofas around your property.
A well-positioned cushion on their favourite window sills will make an inviting perch for a lovely catnap on a long wintry day. Make sure any comfy sills aren’t close to draughty windows or doors. Your cat will love finding any blankets lying on beds so make sure they are machine-washable and that you’re happy if he/she burrows right underneath them when the weather outside is at its worst.
Most cats prefer soft, woollen throws and you can always fold the blankets for a comfortable homemade headrest! Your cat will look very sweet when you come home to find them curled up into a tight ball.
If you have any open fires in your home, it’s important to safeguard them from curious cats. Fireplaces are just as inviting and alluring to cats as you find them, and we all like to snuggle up close to that lovely warmth as long as we’re protected from any loose flying sparks. You should also restrict access with a gate to prevent embers from popping out.
With radiators and heaters in general, it’s always good to service your central heating system and repair any issues before the temperatures really start to plummet. In addition, electric heaters can provide extra warmth but make sure they can’t burn inquisitive little paws.[Image source: Deposit photos]
As temperatures drop, your cat’s nutritional needs can change along with their furry coat. Cats tend to exercise less and may require a higher-calorie diet for additional fuel and to maintain a healthy body weight in the coldest months. Kittens and senior cats also benefit from eating specially formulated winter foods, so you should check the labels on food packaging to find the right one for their life stage.
It is fairly common for cats not to drink as much water in colder weather, so switching at least some of their meals to canned food can help increase fluid intake. The moisture content in wet food will ensure that your cat stays hydrated in a healthy manner.
When it comes to your cat’s grooming routine, it’s important when it gets cold to protect their fur, skin and paws especially from the extreme cold. Your vet will recommend techniques to help combat dry, flakier skin in the winter and advise on any autoimmune diseases that can flare up when the temperature drops. For practical tips, use a brush followed by a steel comb to catch tangles behind ears and legs. Trim excess fuzz between toe pads to discourage painful ice or frozen mud getting trapped under wet, snowy paws. Long-haired breeds like Persians are prone to more matting and knots without daily brushing, while other cat breeds positively thrive in the cold!
With the colder weather, it’s only natural that your cat might prefer to spend more time inside your warm and comfortable home. With this in mind, being extra playful can ward off cat boredom and keep them active despite being inside more than ever. It might be a good time to invest in new indoor toys and pick anything that gets your cat pouncing around to burn off excess energy. Puzzle feeders that make cats ‘hunt’ for food are also great for staving off boredom and mimicking outdoor activities[Image source: Deposit photos]
Set up cat towers next to windows overlooking bird feeders so they can watch the action. Stretch and scratch scratching posts entice cats to exercise claws and muscles too. Place posts in areas where you spend time, like next to the sofa or bed so you can play with your cat when you’re with them.
Keeping your cat happy during winter requires some extra care and attention but your primary focus is to be aware of potential health hazards that might affect them in the colder months. Check any health concerns at your vet and keep an eye on any unfamiliar changes in mood, eating or movement. As long as you provide a warm and cosy home, your feline friend will stay happy and healthy even in the colder months as well as keeping you snuggled up and warm too!