During breakfast one recent morning, my husband looked at Zorro, our rescued, alleged Ragdoll, and said, “You’re looking extra fluffy. Does that mean it will be a hard winter?”
I started to laugh, but winter is never far from your mind when you live in the woods in the Northeastern United States. Never mind that I’ve so far found Vermont winters to be much nicer than Minnesota ones. Winter is often on folks’ minds.
So maybe our cats can serve as a barometer of some sort. Can your cat predict a hard winter? Here are some of the signs to look for:
Is your cat fluffing up in the months preceding winter? Beware! A hard, cold winter may be coming. Zorro always looks fluffy, but this fall, he looked even more so. Of course, it could be that I’ve simply laid off of using the Furminator so much. (I read that it should be used twice a year max, as it takes so much fur.) The other brushes do the trick but they don’t take from the fluff.
Do cats put on weight for the winter like some of us humans do? I see that trend among my cats (yikes). Chester (orange tabby) will always be wiry, and Zorro is actually not fat at all (his fur makes him look chunkier than he really is). But Norton is just the tiniest bit chunky, and Rama and Bluebell love to eat. I think it’s time for more scheduled playtime on these long dark winter nights.
In fall, the cats start getting a lot more snuggly. They want more lap time, especially if I’m wearing soft fleece. It’s all about the comfort. They’ll stay in my lap for hours on end, though they can’t be bothered in the summer.
I’ve not experienced this before, as my cats are mostly too obsessed with food to waste it by hiding it. But if I saw this behavior, I’d worry that my cats might be channeling a squirrel. And if the cats were hiding food in earnest, I’d guess it was going to be a baaaad winter. Does anyone’s cat stash food? I’d love to know.
This is something I’d love to see, only because it would be so cute. My cats accidentally “hide” and lose their toys. Toys are constantly getting knocked under the stove, couch, or piano, and Norton (the cat who never met a problem he didn’t want to try and solve) will spend hours pawing under the piano and twisting his body to get at some out of reach toy. But, if my cats started hiding toys in preparation for winter, I’d seriously wonder whether they were anticipating and planning for nights on end inside with nothing to do.
Yes, that can be me in the winter. Sometimes I just can’t make myself go outside. (Once I do, I usually feel better, especially if I’m moving fast enough to generate some heat.) The solution for your cat? Play, of course! It’s the best exercise and mood lifter. Some cats like dancing and music, too. I’ve played music and danced with my cats in winter. It seems to perk them up — those who will tolerate it. And some cats like to make their own music, including my piano playing Keiran.
This is when I know, in our household, that winter is coming. My cats are used to and love wood stoves. The wood stove is a cat magnet, and the cats will sometimes fight for the best place in front of a warm stove with firelight visible through the glass doors. However, for the first time this year, as things began to get a little cooler outside and in the house, I noticed Keiran, on several occasions, staring deliberately at the empty wood stove. “Get me a nice fire going, mom. Come on!”
I’ve never had this happen, but I do have a cat who will growl at anything unusual, so why not snow? If it rocks his world, I’m sure he’ll growl at it. Sometimes snow rocks my world, especially getting used to the idea that it’s here and going to be here for a while.
Do your cats predict the winter? How so?
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About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, and a contributor to Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes. She’s also a yoga instructor. Cat love living in nature and being outside every day, even in winter. She is mom to six adorable cats, all of them rescues.