How to Protect Your Cat During Winter

Jocelyn Bishop
November 27, 2013

How To's, Pet Parenting

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A Few Tips to Protect Your Cat During Winter and Cold Weather

Seasons come and seasons go, and humans automatically get prepared for the changing weather. Our pets are not as adaptable without the care of their owner. How you prepare to protect your cat during winter depends on whether she is an indoor or outdoor pet. Although your cat has a coat of fur, it does not mean that she is ready to take on all that Mother Nature has to offer during the winter months.

Keeping your cat indoors is always the better, safer option for a good, healthy, long life. However, it is common knowledge that many cats roam the great outdoors, whether they are pets, working farm cats, or a growing feral population.

Whether it is your own cat or those that just like to hang around for your loving handouts, there are some things you can do to protect them from the harsh elements.

Transitioning Cats to the Indoors

If you have an outdoor kitty, you may be able to transition them to the indoors, but it will take time and patience. The outdoors present so many dangers to animals such as disease, animal fights, car accidents and adjusting to harsh weather changes.

If you are looking to transition your pet to the indoors, it should be considered far in advance of the winter season.

You will need to coax the cat in with food or treats but allow it to escape until it becomes more comfortable in your environment. This will take some time, but it is not impossible.

Eventually, when all of its needs are met with food, toys, cat trees, cat walks, and stimulation, the cat will realize it is in a safe environment. However, there are always some cats that are too leery of the indoor home atmosphere and can never be transitioned.

Protecting Outdoor Cats

To protect the outdoor cat, try to ensure a safe, warm type of shelter that is free from wind, drafts, and dampness. Choose an area like a garage, covered barn or porch or a carport.

You can choose a manufactured type of shelter like a pet house, wooden or hard cardboard box. Insulate it on all sides with foam board, an old sleeping bag, blankets or anything of warmth. Check the bedding regularly to make sure it hasn’t become damp. Moisture could be detrimental to the cat’s life.

Along with shelter, provide a supply of water in a self-warming bowl so it does not freeze. Check on the cat daily, providing fresh drinking water and dry blankets as needed.

What to Watch Out For with Outdoor Cats During Winter

  • Be aware that cats hide in some of the strangest places to find warmth and shelter. Cats love to hide under vehicles; when driving away each day, smack on your hood and honk the horn before starting up the vehicle.
  • Ensure that antifreeze is not accessible to any cats looking for a drink while coping with the outdoors. Antifreeze is inviting and sweet-tasting to a pet, but consuming even a small amount could result in death.
  • Outdoor cats should have some type of reflective collars or harnesses, so they are more easily seen in dark or stormy conditions.
  • Kittens, older cats and the sick should be kept indoors when the seasons change. When it comes to the kitties and older animals, they just don’t have the fat and metabolism to fight off the frigid temperatures. Young cats also are not fully clothed in fur to protect them.

Indoor Cats During Winter

Indoor cats can be faced with a rude awakening when seasons change, especially those that love to bathe under a sunny window throughout the year. Preparing your cat for seasonal changes should begin with the brisk fall air and color changes.

Even when kept indoors, winter can be discomforting for your cat. Winter can present more pain for a cat with arthritic problems. A supplement added to their diet can help your cat through the pain and bring about relief. A vet-approved heated bed can also be a great comfort, especially for senior cats.

Another concern is joint issues and keeping your pet at a proper weight. An overweight pet puts more pressure on the joints and causes more pain and discomfort.

During the winter season, your pet may eat less since it is a more sedentary time of year. You can try to encourage more activity by interacting with your pet and scheduling playtime together each day.

Although most cats are not fond of dressing up, sometimes you may need to put a sweater on your cat. This is especially true of short-haired breeds.

Skin and Coat During Winter

Another consideration is the health of your cat’s skin and coat. As you know, your own skin can become dried out during the winter season; the heat can have the same effect on your precious feline. Adding a little humidity in the home can help to ward off the dry, flaky skin condition. You can also purchase shampoos and conditioners that will help keep your cat healthy on the outside. Proper diet and nutrients can help with skin and coat from the inside out.

By properly preparing you’ll help your cat enjoy a happy, healthy life through the winter and all year long.


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarn.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.

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