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Looking after your cat's health in winter

Published date: 09 November 2022

Most cats aren’t fond of the great outdoors in Winter, preferring to swap the snowy and chilly conditions for a warm spot by the fire or window – we don’t blame them! However, our friends have their needs, forcing them to venture outdoors at points during the day – if they must!

Though our independent companions are rather accustomed to outside life, there are some risks associated with Winter - that goes for our pets and ourselves. It’s important that we know these risks, so we can be prepared. Read on to find out how to help keep your cat safe, content and happy in the colder months.

Do Cats get cold?

Though adaptable and warm in their thick coats, cats can suffer from typical low temperature concerns such as hypothermia and frostbite, if they’re exposed to temperatures that fall too low.

Luckily, our clever cats understand when it’s time to quit the adventures for the day and come back inside. Of course, there are some factors to consider, some individuals are going to suffer more than others, this is due to age, health and even the thickness of their coat.

For example, if your cat is a hairless cat it’s suggested that they are provided with a jumper even when they’re indoors and the weather is particularly cold and if our friends suffer from illnesses such as a thyroid, renal, heart disease or cancer then outdoor activities may need to be considered even further.

We recommend keeping a close eye on your friend and looking out for signs that they’re feeling a little chilly. Just like us your cat might shiver, find a warm spot like a shed or a garage or sit in a hunch position.

In extreme cases, if you’re concerned that your cat may be experiencing hypothermia, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness
  • Slower or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle Stiffness
  • Confusion & Lack of awareness
  • Will my cat sleep more during Winter?

    This one may answer itself – yes, cats love a lazier pace through the colder months and will go to great lengths to seek out warm spots, adopting that ‘donut’ position to get cosy and waste a few hours of the day.

    If your cat does suffer from an illness or is elderly, it might be a good idea to help support them with a cosy igloo or move their bed into a draft-free spot next to a nice warm heater. If your cat seems to have found their own spot, it might a nice idea to put another bed into the space for optimum cosiness.

    Some cats may go in search of a warm place outside and this can often end in our companions sitting close to the engine of a car, or above a wheel compartment – therefore it’s wise to hit the bonnet of your car to warn any friends who may be snoozing underneath.

    Can Cats get depressed?

    It’s reported that one-third of cat owners said that their cat’s mood seemed gloomy or even depressed in Winter. Of course, there isn’t any real evidence to suggest that our friends are affected by depression during this time.

    However, as humans we are affected by the lack of sunlight during the dark months and as cats are also mammals, there’s no reason not to suggest that our felines may suffer too, after all, their usual habits are disturbed and their humans may also enter a new routine and slower pace of life too.

    Don’t worry, if your cat does seem a little ‘off’ – there are some things you can do to help lift their spirits:

  • Keep them warm - just as we mentioned above, make sure you find them a nice cosy spot to enjoy and snuggle into. Away from drafts and busy walkways.
  • Give them space - your friend might be used to spending lots of time outdoors enjoying their own company, suddenly they’re right in the middle of family life. You can help by finding them their own little space and asking the family to consider their needs for some alone time.
  • Play - time to get those toys out and refresh their cat scratchers. If you’re using old toys, try buying a cat nip spray to ‘spruce’ up their interest. On particularly cold days it might be a good idea to play more and keep your friend indoors, especially if you’re worried about their health.
  • Consider your Cat’s diet during Winter

    If your feline companion spends most of their day in the warmth of your home, lazily enjoying that spot of light and watching the world go by – it’s likely that their food intake won’t drastically change all that much. In fact, you may notice a little weight gain. As mentioned above the best way to keep them healthy is to play enriching games 1-2 times a day for 30 minutes and reduce their food intake slightly – feed at the weight they should be rather than the weight that they are.

    However, if they spend a lot of time outdoors then their metabolism is likely to be interrupted. When it’s cold outside, our friend’s body must work harder to keep warm, which means that they will burn more calories in the process.

    Also, if your cat is a hunter then the shorter days will play a part in their normal routine. Even the most independent of felines may come crying for more food.

    It’s important to make sure you’re providing the right diet and the correct amount via our feeding guidelines. So, if you are required to increase your kit’s diet, there is room to but ensure that the food is reduced again slowly while the Winter months subside and increase it at a slow pace at the start.

    When considering your cat’s food, we recommend ensuring that their diet is made of high-quality and digestible ingredients to support the weeks ahead during winter:

  • Protein - you won’t be required to change your cat’s diet so long as it’s full of high-quality proteins and fats that come from fresh meat. This will help to keep your cat’s coat nice and thick helping to manage body warmth.
  • Fats - make sure your diet has plenty of quality fats available to your kit. We supplement our recipes with Omega Oils, which will help to keep their skin, coat, paws and noses nicely nourished to aid with the change in season.
  • Taurine - an essential amino acid to our friends – this is a must for their diet, come rain or shine. During the Winter months it becomes more important as we are required to support their immune function, nervous system and overall health.
  • During these months, it’s important we provide water to our friends as well as considering their food intake. Keep an eye on their weight and general health, many pet parents feed their friends a little extra with our wet recipes which purrfectly help to complement their diet and provide extra support required through Winter.

    Do I need to protect against Fleas and Ticks in Winter?

    It is reported that there is a 20% drop in the sale of flea treatments in the Winter months, suggesting that we don’t need to fear fleas and ticks when the change of weather comes around. Not quite!

    Fleas do survive in the Winter months, especially in our warm and cosy homes which set the scene for the perfect environment if you’re a flea. Make sure you keep on top of your flea treatments and speak with your pet specialist at your local pet shop to find out the best solution to rid them from your home – furever!

    We do have some good news… ticks are more active between the months of March to October, BUT they can still be active on mild Winter days - so be aware!

    Winter Chemicals and Cats

    Watch out for chemicals that are used in Wintertime, in particular – antifreeze. Unfortunately, cats are attracted to the taste of antifreeze, but it is of course extremely toxic and poses significant risks to our pets.

    We recommend storing it away from pets and clearing up any spills immediately. Signs that your cat may have ingested a chemical like antifreeze are as follows:

  • Increase in drinking or urination
  • Lethargy
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Uncoordinated
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • If you’re concerned, it’s important to act quickly and contact your vet as soon as possible!

    Are there any risks to my Cat at Christmas?

    Hiding in all the places we enjoy and frequently eat or drink are hazards that our friends should avoid. Delicious treats like Christmas cake, mince pies and alcohol can all cause an issue if they got into the wrong paws.

    Luckily, we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to help. Read more here!

    How can I help my Cat over Fireworks night?

    Like all wild animals, cats instinctively associate loud noises with danger. Therefore, unexpected bangs or flashes from a fireworks display can trigger their lightning-bolt reflexes, causing them to run for safety and hide. Read on for our tips on how to keep your cat calm during a display:

    Mask the sound: Playing the TV or radio will reduce the impact of loud noises that can be heard in the distance

    Create a ‘safe space' in your home: Whether it's a cardboard box or under furniture, create a comfortable space to which they can retreat and relax

    Let them decide where to hide: Don't be concerned if your cat escapes to a dark hidey-hole where they feel safe. Don't try to pull them out of this little sanctuary, as it will only cause undue stress and it's best for your pet to stay as calm as possible throughout the evening

    Act natural: Animals are perceptive, so can sense if you're behaving unusually. If your cat chooses to not to hide, they may seek reassurance. However, if you're overly affectionate during a nearby fireworks display, this can be unsettling as they make think you are worried too

    Avoid picking them up: If your cat is feeling distressed, picking them up may cause them to lash out

    Give them time: Even if you think the fireworks are over, remember that your cat's acute hearing may mean they're listening to far-off bangs and fizzes, so they may not re-appear right away. Cats take a while to calm down, so wait until morning before you start interacting with them. They'll emerge when they're ready, so just have food and water waiting

    Avoid leaving them alone at home, if possible: Arrange a sitter to look after your cat if you have plans leave the home. If you return and your frightened kitty has toileted outside the litter tray, or scratched excessively on the furniture, don't shout, as this will only cause further confusion and distress. Otherwise, firework displays are just as impressive from a distance!

    Like to learn more about keeping your cat safe over Fireworks Night? You can read our blog here.

    Making a list to support Cats through Winter

    So, you’ve read the blog and you’re feeling a little more confident about caring for your friends through the Winter months. What can you do now to prepare? Here are our top tips to help:
    Diet - of course, our first tip is to get their diet right to help support their weight, immune system, energy levels and physiological health.
    Litter Tray - if your outdoor cat hasn’t already got a litter tray, it might be a good idea to buy one and place it indoors in case they are now spending more time indoors and it’s too cold to use the loo in their normal environment.
    Paw Health - you’ll want to keep your cat’s paws nice and clean and free from cracks. If you’re noticing any soreness, consider purchasing a balm, you can speak with your local pet specialist or vet about this item.
    Start shopping - for those cast toys we mentioned above. A great tip is to circulate your toys by popping a couple away for a month, using the catnip spray to freshen up the old product and cycling round.
    Bed - get snuggly and look for a bed that best suits your cat’s needs, whether that’s for age, their health or perhaps your home is extra chilly.
    Microchip - this year, in the Winter of 2022 the laws on microchipping your cat will become compulsory. Microchipping your cat is smart idea, during these cold months, as it is easy for our cats to become confused and struggle to find their way home – a microchip helps our friends to make it back safely.

    *The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet's health*


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