Winter cat care is the responsibility of all of us, especially if we know there are stray and feral cats in the area.
Keeping our own cats safe and warm throughout the cold months is something we all take for granted, but spare a thought for our homeless outdoor cats. Who although used to being outside all of the time, do need a little helping hand when the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Here are my tips on how to make sure all of our cats and those who don’t have a home make it through the Winter months.
Make sure you give your cat a quick wipe down when they come in with wet or damp fur. Although your cat will dry themselves off after awhile, sitting with wet fur can cause illness, especially for the older cat.
No one likes to sit in wet clothes, so give your cat a helping hand with this overlooked winter cat care tip.
Provide an area outside for either your cat or a stray to take refuse from the bad weather. It doesn't have to be a shop bought kennel or cabin, although these are the best, you can easily make something yourself.
For instance a simple large plastic storage box can be made into a cosy kennel by simply cutting a hole in the side to make and entrance. Fill it with straw (not hay) or torn up newspaper and seal the lid on with strong tape.
Make sure you place any shelter off the ground and in a sheltered part of the garden.
Cats use their body heat to keep warm so the shelter should be small enough to preserve body heat and big enough to be comfortable. Bedding should be kept clean and dry, so remember to change it regularly.
If your kitty gets lost or left outside for long periods in very cold weather frostbite can be a real concern. Things to look out for are reddened tissues, scaly skin and even shedding of dead skin.
The paws, ears and tail are the areas that are most affected so if you see any abnormal signs in these areas during very cold weather consult a vet immediately. Never rub tissue that has been frozen, as it will cause further damage.
You may tempted to use salt and other snow melting chemicals to clear away snow from paths, but sapre a thought for our four legged friends.
Salt and other chemicals can be damaging to paws and if digested can also cause severe illness.
Provide some food for stray cats as it will be harder for them to find food and water during Winter. Water especially is more likely to freeze so their usual supply of drinking water such as puddles is lost to them.
Feed wet and dry food and place it in a sheltered place, preferably inside a feeding box. Always place the food at the same time every day that way the cats will get used to coming during those times and the food is less likely to freeze before they get to eat it.
If you live in an area where you get severe frosts and snow then building a feeding station is the cats best option. It will protect the food and the cats while they eat.
A warm car is the perfect place for a cat to take shelter. It is therefore very important to check under the wheel arches and under the bonnet before you start your engine and drive off.
Sadly many cats have been injured and killed this way, so a quick check before you pull away especially if you know there are many strays in your area, could save a life.
For some reason antifreeze is irresistible to cats and they will quite happily lap up any spills they find. Unfortunately it is extremely toxic to cats.
Take care when using antifreeze that you always screw the cap back on tightly after use, clean up any spills and keep it in a locked cupboard.
Sadly there are many cats out there who do not have a home to shelter from the cold winter storms. You can make a real difference to their lives and provide them with a little comfort and protection with little effort. So go on provide some winter cat care for your strays.