Cats have some unique care needs, and these are made even more apparent in the winter months. Once the temperatures drop, snow begins to fall and the days get shorter, you might need to implement a few more elements into your cat’s daily routines.
In order to make sure your cat stays healthy and happy throughout the entire winter season, use these winter cat care tips that cover their needs from head to toe.
You shouldn’t let your cat’s general wellbeing fall to the wayside during winter! Winter might be a busy time for us humans with the holidays and seasonal activities, but this is all the more reason to keep a closer eye on your pet’s health.
A semi-annual veterinary appointment during winter can ensure that your pet is healthy following the summer and fall seasons. Even if you don’t have a vet appointment, though, it’s a good idea to give your pet an at-home exam and winter pest check to look for anything out of the ordinary.
Winter is also a good time to pay special attention to some of your cat’s specific health problems. Cats with arthritis might suffer from stiff or inflamed joints as a result of changing air pressure. Gentle exercise, arthritis supplements and herbal pain relief can help keep your kitty comfortable.
For cats with allergies or asthma, a humidifier can ease the discomfort of dry winter air. Cleaning the furnace filters and vents can also ensure that your pet doesn’t spend months sneezing or itching from an allergic reaction to dust and mold.
Coat and skin
Dry winter air can affect your kitty’s skin and coat in many of the same ways it affects our own skin and hair. Some cats will develop dry, red and flaky skin as a result of reduced moisture in the air.
Adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to their diet can help improve moisture retention and reduce itchiness. You should also brush your cat regularly during winter to distribute oils throughout their fur.
Both indoor and outdoor kitties can develop dry and cracked paw pads due to dryness, too, so keep an eye out for paw problems and use a pet-safe moisturizer to restore them.
Behavior and mood
It’s normal for pets to sleep more and act more lethargic in winter when there is less sunlight. Experts believe that fewer daylight hours causes an increase in the melatonin our pets produce, making them feel more sluggish and sleepier.
Keep an eye on your pet’s activity level this winter. If they’re sleeping more, that’s okay, but if they refuse to play or eat or are otherwise acting strangely, a more serious problem might be to blame.
Diet and nutrition
You may have heard that cats eat more during the wintertime because they need more energy to stay warm. While this may be true of outdoor cats, it may not necessarily be true of indoor cats, who are protected from the elements.
Overfeeding your cat during winter—especially if they spend most of their time dozing in bed—could lead to problems like obesity and diabetes. Make sure you consult your vet before making any portion or nutritional changes to your kitty’s diet in the winter months.
Warmth and comfort
Cats have a higher base body temperature than humans, sitting around 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F (37.5 to 39.1 degrees C). During winter, this means they’ll likely seek out warm and cozy places to rest and keep off that winter chill.
If your cat has little or no fur to keep them warm, it might be a good idea to buy them a sweater or jacket that insulates them from the cold. For all cats, though, be mindful of your home’s temperature—what is slightly chilly to you might be very cold to your kitty! Also make sure your furnace is in good condition to avoid any sudden losses of heat that could be dangerous to your feline friend.
Set up cozy places for your cat to relax in, such as blanket piles or a bed with a pet-safe heating pad inside. Also make sure your cat doesn’t have access to potentially dangerous warm spots they might be tempted to curl up near. Gate off things like fireplaces, radiators, wood-burning stoves and similar objects to prevent your cat from being burned.
Winter also poses a few safety hazards you should be aware of. Most importantly, avoid letting your cat outside during winter for any reason. Cats who get lost or stuck outside in freezing temperatures could develop frostbite or hypothermia, which could be deadly. Ice and snow can also be difficult for your cat to traverse and might even lead to them getting lost!
Additionally, things like antifreeze in the garage or de-icing chemicals on the sidewalk are toxic to pets and could poison your kitty if they lick them up. It’s generally best to keep cats inside during the winter months to keep them warm and safe.
Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up on the couch with your feline friend and enjoy the coziness and warmth of home. With a little extra attention paid to your cat’s health and wellbeing, you’ll ensure that you both have a safe and happy season!