Keeping cats safe and well during the coldest months of the year

We all know that cats love to roam. However, even armed with this knowledge, many were surprised when in 2014, BBC Horizon’s Cat Watch strapped GPS trackers to 100 cats and discovered just how far felines are willing to go.

During warm summer nights, this doesn’t prevent too much of a problem. There are still hazards but the weather itself is probably just right for a midnight prowl and some mice hunting.
However, winter nights, when temperatures can plummet to below freezing and wind and rain can add to the unpleasantness, offer multiple challenges to our feline friends.
Some cats will be reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of the home, but others will want to head out and about into the night.
If the weather becomes very cold it is always best to keep your cat indoors. Pet cats aren’t used to coping with extreme temperatures and can develop both frostbite and hypothermia. A litter tray will ensure they can keep regular while keeping your house clean, and you can entertain them with toys and feeders, or even some good old fashioned string to chase.
A hand under a blanket or newspaper is another great way of staving off boredom and raising the entertainment levels.
If you do want to let them out, keep an eye on the cat flap (if you have one) to ensure they can get back in again.
Ice and snow can easily make access difficult and you don’t want your lovely cat stuck outside trying to get back in. If you don’t want them to go back out again, you can always lock the flap once they have returned.
It’s a good idea to provide an easily accessible shelter if your cat wants to sit outside and watch the world go by
(or mice). You can easily make something out of old wood or a cardboard box. Just ensure it has been made waterproof and perhaps some warm material inside.
Of course, cats love creature comforts and will try and find somewhere to shelter if one hasn’t been provided.
While these may keep them dry and out of the wind, typical hiding places like garages, outhouses, sheds and bike stores, will not keep them warm, so make sure you check these places regularly if your cat has been out for a while.

If it has been snowing or icy, wipe their paws when they come back inside as things like grit and the salt used for clearing paths and roads can stick to them and cause irritation.
Elderly cats or those suffering from arthritis might be affected more than others in the cold weather, just like their owners. Try to keep them inside and offer accessible and warm places for them.

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