October 7, 2022
It is often thought that cats can withstand lower temperatures than humans as they have fur coats, however, this is not always true. Though cats are very adaptable animals, they can be susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia or frostbite if the temperature outside drops too low.
So, Vet Victoria Seale has created a pre-winter cat checklist to help you keep your pet happy and safe during the coming months in London.
Booking a pre-winter cat check-up with one of our vets is a good idea to ensure your cat is healthy enough to cope with what the next few months have in store.
Victoria’s pre-winter cat checklist
Whether you have a cat who loves to be snug indoors or a cat who loves to chase birds outside, it is important to be prepared for the winter weather. Here is Victoria’s checklist to help keep your cat safe in the cold. Why not share it with other cat owners via email or social media?
- Do not lock them outside at night. When the temperature drops your cat will be at a much higher risk of developing frostbite or hypothermia – learn more about hypothermia in pets.
- Install a cat flap. If you haven’t got one already, a cat flap gives your cat the freedom to go out and more importantly, come back in when they have had enough of the cold.
- Get your cat microchipped so if they do wander off or get injured, you have a much higher chance of being reunited with them. You can also program some cat flaps to recognise only your cat’s microchip.
- Keep plenty of water inside in case outside sources freeze.
- Provide shelter for them outdoors. Your cat may want to brave the harsh temperatures, so make sure they have a sheltered spot to retreat to.
- Wipe off anything sticking to their fur or paws – this includes road grit, salt, and ice. Victoria recommends one of the best things you can do is keep them dry.
- If the weather is below 7 degrees Celsius, limit their time outdoors. Despite their layer of fur, this weather is dangerous for your cat. Restrictions like this can stress your cat out though so be sure to monitor their behaviour and let them out if they really want to go.
- Keep them entertained and enriched with toys and playtime inside.
- Use a guard on open fireplaces. As we all know, cats love to cosy-up and be warm, however they may overheat, have their fur singed, or be burnt by embers from an open fire.
- Aim to use de-icer sprays without ethylene glycol. Even a small amount of antifreeze can be fatal for a cat if ingested and annoyingly it tastes quite sweet, which attracts pets.
- Provide a private, indoor litter tray – this way your cat will hopefully think twice about heading outside to urinate or defecate. Victoria advises that you should have at least one litter tray per cat in a multi-cat household, and multiple trays if you have more than one level in your home.
- Check your vehicle before you drive. Cats tend to find warmth underneath cars or around car engines, so lure them out with treats before you set off.
- Keep your cat comfortable. Make sure they have warm blankets or a bed next to the radiator to keep them insulated – especially at night.
- Monitor their food intake. Active outdoor cats may need extra sustenance to maintain their energy levels and keep warm. However, cats who remain fairly inactive and indoors for most of the day may need fewer calories to reduce the risk of getting overweight.
Overall, the best way to protect your cat from the cold weather in London is to understand the risks of them being outside, provide the appropriate resources for them out there, as well as a safe and comfortable space for them indoors. This way, you have everything covered and can enjoy the winter season with your feline friend.
Given the option of a warm fire inside and an icy blizzard outside, our Bayswater veterinary team know what their cats would choose!
What about yours?
Share a photo of your cat and let us know if they are an outdoor winter warrior or an indoor cosy cat on our Facebook page.
For peace of mind, consider booking a pre-winter check with one of our vets.