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Ask A Vet: 5 Tips For Keeping Your Cat Healthy & Happy This Winter

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Baby, it’s cold outside! Indoor cats don’t need much special handling in the winter, but even they will feel the effects of the shortened daylight and the changes in your mood and activity. Here are some things you should think about in the coming frigid days.

1. Keep them thinking and moving. Make sure that you help keep cats happy and active during the time that their bodies may be sluggish and depressed. Playing games and adding interactive toys are fun for everyone. Be sure that she does not snack too much just because she is bored and gain some winter weight.  Being overweight is not good for your cat at all.

2. Make daily activities convenient. If your cat has osteoarthritis, it may worsen, even for indoor cats. Try to be alert if she is having trouble climbing or jumping. Her litter box could become too hard to access if she feels stiff and sore. Make sure that she has warm places to snuggle in.  Take advantage of the winter blues to spend some good time cuddling with your cat.

3. Make sure your cat is easily identified if the unthinkable happens. Indoor cats sometimes escape with all the winter time activities.  While you are shaking snow from your boots, Fluffy might become frightened and run through the open door. Make sure that he is permanently identified with a microchip.  According to the Catalyst Council, microchipped cats are 22 times more likely to be returned home than non-chipped cats.

4. Keep everything animal-friendly. Avoid using traditional antifreeze (even if you know that your cat is not likely to be outside) and if you do, be certain it is never spilled or left accessible. If walkways require de-icing, try to choose animal friendly products to protect tender paw pads.

5. Remember those less lucky than your cat. Homeless animals that are forced to deal with the cold will often seek food and warmth around humans.  Such strays like to shelter inside our cars.  It is a good idea to bang loudly on the hood of a vehicle that is parked outside to drive out animals that have hidden inside before they are injured by the vehicle movement.  Before setting out, look under the car above the tires and around it.  If you know of a group of feral cats living near you, build temporary shelter boxes for them from anything you can find. Laundry baskets and straw can be easily acquired. Extreme temperatures put a high demand on a cat’s body, so providing food is generous and helpful. Keep a water source that is not frozen available at all times.

Winter is the hardest time to be homeless and even beloved house cats have to be planned for. Anything that you can do to make life a little easier for those animals around you is time well spent.

For more timely tips about caring for cats, please follow me on Facebook.

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