After quite a mild autumn, winter has suddenly descended upon us here in the UK.
Yes, I know it’s December and it’s what we should expect, but the sudden change in temperature can be quite a shock for those that are sensitive to changes, like our beloved cats. Especially during the night as the temperature plummets and most of us humans are all snuggled up under our winter duvets. We may be warm and comfy, but how can we be sure our furry companions are feeling the same?
Cats develop thicker coats as cold weather arrives, don’t they?
Yes, they do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get cold, especially when they are roaming outdoors during winter months. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures can also make some cats succumb to hypothermia, especially young kittens and elderly cats. Also, it is wise to remember to look out for any stray or feral cats in your area as well. Perhaps offer them some shelter in your garden or back yard. A nice warm spot to sleep in, such as a shed or a cardboard box placed in a warmer spot away from any dampness and with a warm blanket, some food and water should suffice.
Keeping indoor cats warm
For your indoor cats, make sure you keep them safe away from any drafty windows or doors, and make sure to keep all exits shut so your darling kitty can’t escape outside. What if he or she ends up getting lost and stuck in heavy snowfall and, heaven forbid, freezes to death?
Even indoor cats can get cold too. In our house we can only afford to keep the heating on during the day, which means the nights can get very cold as the radiators cool down. As my cat always loves to sleep on my bed, I thought she would feel quite warm enough. But the other night I woke to find that she wasn’t in her cat bed, which I always have on my bed, but on the floor under my desk instead (which is in my bedroom). All huddled up, her paws tucked under her, she looked very cold indeed. Of course, Mummy here picked her up and she slept comfortably against my legs on top of the duvet to keep warm. What I do now is keep a small blanket on the bed just in case she wakes up during the night feeling cold again.
If your cat likes to sleep on the floor at night, make sure they have a comfy warm cat bed to sleep in, or at least a warm rug if you don’t have carpet. And don’t forget that blanket.
Frostbite and hypothermia
As I said, frostbite and hypothermia are also possible in cats and you must keep an eye out for any symptoms. Be extra careful with outdoor cats. Make sure you bring them in at night and watch for any symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothermia are any shivering and breathing problems, lethargy, a weak pulse and a temperature of less than 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signs of frostbite to look out for: pale grey or blue skin turning red and puffy later, any pain in the ears or paws or tail when touched, cold skin that remains cold, and skin that shrivels.
Remember, if you think that your pet is suffering frostbite or hypothermia you must contact your vet immediately.