The four seasons on Earth, particularly in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, has its advantages and disadvantages. The changing seasons help the ecosystem thrive which most living organisms benefit from, but it can sometimes make survival difficult for some animals. For example, feral and household cats have a hard time surviving the winter. The cold weather will not only cause them to freeze to death if they don’t use their natural instincts to fight it, but it will also make it difficult for them to find food, shelter and remain hydrated.
What’s the Difference Between a Feral Cat and a House/Pet Cat?
Cats roaming around freely without a tag and don’t belong to anyone are feral cats (some people call them wild cats). These cats generally stay active all year round looking for food and may cover an area as big as two square miles, whereas your household cat is accustomed to wandering an area of four acres. No matter their differences, all are susceptible to the cold, which is why you may find them cozying up to vehicles to warm themselves with the heat emanating from the engine.
As an animal lover, here’s what you can do to help.
1.) Help Keep their Bodies Hydrated
The winter cold is more than enough to dehydrate animals (including cats) which is why you need to provide water that they can easily access both inside and outside. Note: leaving a water dish out in the cold will cause the water to become too cold or even freeze after several hours. An alternative is to use a water dish with an electric heater to keep the water at room temperature so cats can drink comfortably.
2.) Double the Amount of Food to Feed Them
Like humans, cats store sugar in their bodies to be used later as energy. In cold outdoor temperatures, they tend to use most of the energy in their body to stay warm. Providing more food is helpful because they’ll need it to warm up their bodies later on. Because of the lower temperatures, feed them mostly dry food as it helps them store more energy in their bodies.
3.) Provide a Warm, Clean and Dry Shelter
Feral cats are often scared or shy around humans so they won’t be included to jump into a warm basket filled with used clothes or carpet while you wave at them to come into your garage. Instead, build them a temporary shelter preferably near or beside your tool shed that will ensure they stay warm, dry and clean throughout the night. To build a temporary shelter, you can use a 20 quart plastic container, put some dry clothes in it and bore a hole 6 – 7 inches wide for the cat to enter/exit. Using duct tape or superglue will help keep the entire container fastened to a wall. Remember to put under the overhang or inside the tool shed to prevent snow from getting inside it. If you’ll place it outside, use enough roofing to protect it from the wind and snow.
4.) Protect their Paws from the Cold
Rub petroleum jelly over their paws to keep dry and ice-free. Another solution – use cat boots to prevent their paws from coming into contact with the snow all together. Wash paws if they step in antifreeze products because the chemicals are harmful to them.
5.) Use Animal-Friendly Chemicals to Moisturize their Skin
Dry skin often occurs during winter which can cause itchiness and irritate your cat’s skin. One solution, feed them foods with extra moisture in it and ensure they have plenty of water to drink. Adding Omega-3 fish oil to their food will increase their health and will prevent their skin from drying.
At TAILored Cat Services, our professional cat sitters take pride in keeping your cat safe which includes keeping them warm during the winter. To learn more about our cat sitting services, call us at 425-923-7791.