Two weeks ago, we talked about how to keep your pooch warm and safe during the wintertime. If your four-legged friend is a cat, you may wonder if any of these tips are applicable to you. Some of them certainly are, but the fact that so many cats have independent outdoor access complicates things quite a bit. Lucky for you, we have cat winter safety tips to help you keep kitty safe and warm too. Let’s get started!
Too Cold For Cats
Cats are very independent animals. They know how to fend for themselves in even some of the most extreme and unfavorable conditions. This is why so many cat parents allow their felines to roam free and unsupervised outdoors, trusting that they will return in one piece when they are good and ready.
However, there should be a cut-off point during the wintertime. Kitty may not understand what the weather guy is prattling on about on the TV but you sure do. According to a vet clinic in Oklahoma, anything below the freezing point is too cold for a cat to be outdoors. An article by the Texas A&M University sets the threshold even higher at 45 degrees. It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution.
If your news channel issues a freeze warning or Google tells you that cold temperatures will reach 45 degrees or lower, it’s time for kitty to come indoors and stay indoors. This is easy for cat owners who have indoor-only cats. When cats are used to having outdoor access, however, keeping them indoors can be a challenge.
How To Keep Cats Indoors
According to the Humane Society of the United States, keeping indoor cats happy requires practice, experience, and an early start. The sooner you lay down the law, the easier it is for kitty to respect and understand the boundary. Simply put, if you’ve never let your cat outside unsupervised, it might be best to keep it that way. Here are some other tips if that advice feels like too little too late.
1. Provide a Catio
If you’re super handy, you can build one of these yourself. If not, Amazon or the local carpenter may help. Catios provide kitty with a screened-in porch where he can enjoy the great outdoors without venturing too far out into the cold. Remember to provide independent access so kitty doesn’t need your permission to get out. This might soothe his bruised ego just a tad.
2. Get a Leash
Most cats will not take kindly to being walked on a leash. Even if we do, there’s no telling what our reaction might be if we encounter a big, scary dog. That said, many owners have great success leash-training their courageous kitties. This might be an awesome way for your cat to enjoy the great outdoors with you.
3. Keep Kitty Entertained
Cats enjoy the outdoors because of all the stimuli available. Being outdoors allows kitties to satisfy that predator instinct that comes so naturally. You will need to find ways to cater to this indoors. Provide window access if there is no catio, so Mister Whiskers can at least see the world beyond. Also, get plenty of toys and schedule daily playtime.
How To Keep Cats Warm Outdoors
No matter what you do, some cats are excellent escape artists and will zip between your legs just as you are bringing the groceries in. Think you can call Mister Whiskers to come back into your domesticated box after this? Good luck! Here’s what you can do in these instances.
1. Build a One-Way Door
If you suspect that kitty is going to be a bad little puss, install a one-way cat flap. This way, he can use it to get in when he comes back, but can’t use it to get out again. There’s no need to pay extra for this feature or change the existing cat door. Look up some simple DIY fixes online.
2. Create an Outdoor Shelter
Once kitty realizes that the door only works one way, he may become reluctant to use it unless he absolutely has to — or you leave delicious treats on the other side. Build an outdoor shelter to ensure he has a warm spot to wait out the cold when he’s being stubborn. The Animal Humane Society has easy instructions on how to make a kitty shelter out of a Rubbermaid tote.
3. Get a Chip and Tracker
As mentioned earlier, snow can make it more difficult for cats to find their way home. Make it easier for a Good Samaritan to help. Ensure kitty wears a collar with his name and your own, as well as your address and phone number. You should also get kitty micro-chipped. Finally, consider getting a tracker. Professional ones can be expensive, but even a $30 Tile tracker can do the trick.
Dog Gon Good Time Can Help
Don’t be fooled by the name. Some of Dog Gon Good Time’s regular four-legged clients are felines. If you have a long vacation ahead and worry about leaving kitty at home, get pet sitters to visit frequently and care for kitty during the winter months. However, if you know kitty is an escape artist, it’s a good idea to try one of the outdoor backup plans above just in case he gets out.