Winter Safety: How to Keep the Felines Warm

Although it hasn’t quite felt like it, the colder months are quickly approaching and winter will be here before we know it. Pretty soon, stray flurries may begin to fall, frost will coat the ground, and everyone will be seen bundled from head to toe. As you’re zipping up your jacket and wrapping around your scarf, remember that there are little four legged furbabies outside who are just as cold as you.

That’s right! Those outdoor cats, whether they’re yours, a neighbor’s, or strays and ferals, are not immune to the chilly, and possibly freezing, temperatures that come along with this time of year, especially at nighttime. Not only that, they also can’t conveniently put on a jacket, hat and mittens when they’re feeling a bit shivery; they are left to fend for themselves to find warmth. So, how can you help your cat, your neighbor’s cat, or the stray and feral cats that live strictly outside stay warm?

First, think about building or buying a small, insulated outdoor shelter for them; anything too large will not trap their body heat. Cover the floor with straw or pillow cases filled with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper. Both of the options allow cats to burrow, which in turn helps them to keep warm. Make sure to avoid covering the floor with blankets or towels, as this absorbs body heat rather than traps and maintains it.

Since extra calories are needed to help keep warm, food and water are extremely important as well. It’s best to leave slightly warmed canned food out at the same time each day, this way the cat/cats learn when to come back and eat. Ceramic or plastic dishes are the safest options to feed with because when the temperature gets cold, cats can get their tongues stuck to those made of metal. Additionally, remember to place the food and water bowls outside of the shelter, so that the chance of any spillage inside is eliminated.

By creating a safe shelter with fresh food and water daily, you are not only helping to keep your cat, your neighbor’s cat, or the stray and feral cats warm, but you are also helping to keep them happy and healthy during the coldest months of the year. So when the first day rolls around that’s worthy of your coat and scarf, take a moment to create a place for the cats to bundle up too.

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