I’m like Siegfried Farnon, the vet in James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. I don’t believe people should own pets but I have three cats, a guinea pig and a gecko. Winter presents several problems for indoor and outdoor pets. Here is a guide to follow with your pets if you live in areas that get snow, ice or cold weather.
In the fall, you cat will begin to shed his summer coat and grow his winter coat. Proper grooming is important to help him manage the changes in his fur. To rid himself of fur and hair, he will wash frequently. Brushing your cat with a special cat brush helps to clean out the old fur so the new fur can grow. It also helps to prevent your cat from getting hairballs in his stomach.
Winter drives animals and people indoors and it also drives fleas indoors. Treat your cat for fleas every month to keep him comfortable and clean. If you don’t like to use chemical flea sprays or powders, try baking soda instead. Baking soda will neutralize his itchiness, help to heal flea bites and get rid of fleas. Place the cat in a box or in the bath tub. cover his fur with baking soda and work in thoroughly. Brush his coat while he is still in the box or bathtub. The fleas come out with the baking soda. Naturally he will want to lick and although the baking soda doesn’t taste very good it won’t hurt him. Give him a treat for being a good boy and praise him.
For areas that get snow, if you have outdoor cats, be sure that when you shovel, that you shovel a path for the cats to get to their potty place. Cats should not be allowed outside if the temperature gets too low, if there is freezing rain, high winds or heavy snow. If they do go outside, it should only be for short periods of time. Do not leave cats outside on cold days if you are going to be gone all day. When cats come inside, be sure to dry their paws and wipe off the snow from their fur.
Be sure to give your cat plenty of fresh water. Outdoor cats can’t hunt as much and may need extra food. Be sure that your cat gets enough fats or oils in his diet. Winter is a time when animals, just like humans are prone to dry skin. If his food doesn’t contain enough fat, he will lose body fat and catch cold more easily.
Give your cat an extra blanket in his bed. My cats don’t have beds, so I leave blankets on chairs for them to stay warm. Even though cats are endothermic (warm-blooded) mammals, they need help to keep warm. And remember a cat is much closer to the floor where all the cold air is. He is also much smaller and will feel cold more quickly.
Remember to take your pets into consideration in your winter home maintenance preparations.