Even though they’re covered in a layer of fur that grows magically thicker over the winter months, my cats hate the cold just as much as I do, spending much of their time fused either to me or my boyfriend, the nearest heater, or each other for warmth. When the temperature dips perpetually below freezing and it sucks even to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without socks and a hoodie, my cats and I make an unspoken pact: Let’s help each other through this BS.
The ways my cats help me are pretty obvious: Their adorable faces warm my cold, cold heart, and their thick, luxurious belly floof reminds me that, in only a few short weeks, the cold will snap, and I will once again be vacuuming tufts of gray and white fur from every corner of my home. Here are four ways I return the favor and help my cats get through the winter.
One of my Christmas gifts from my mom this year was a soft, chocolate-colored electric blanket. For years I’ve resisted purchasing an electric blanket, telling myself I was too strong for such an indulgence — but when my mom asked me if I wanted one, I jumped at the chance, primarily because I was thinking of my cats. Bubba Lee Kinsey is nearly 14 years old and occasionally troubled by arthritis, so I figured sleeping on the blanket would help soothe his joints.
To be fair, I use the blanket every day; each morning, I say, “Time to fire up the blanket!” in a southern accent before snuggling beneath it to do my work. Unbeknownst to the cats, this is all part of my plan. Every time I purchase a bed specifically for them, they won’t go near it, but if something belongs exclusively to me or my boyfriend, I can’t keep them away from it — take, for example, our shoes and dirty laundry. Right now, Phoenix is napping on my lap, soaking up the heat rays from the fired-up blanket. I win.
My boyfriend and I have central heat in our home, so the space heater is not absolutely necessary for our comfort the way it was in my drafty, turn-of-the-century old apartment. But every day I turn it on because Bubba Lee Kinsey likes to nap beside it, his paws mere centimeters from the scalding hot metal. Bonus: When Bubba gets really warm and toasty, motorboating his belly floof is a magical activity that instantly warms me from head to toe.
No matter how busy I am or what I’m doing — typing on my laptop, eating cereal, going to the bathroom — if my cats want snuggles, I’m going to acquiesce to their request. Occasionally this means putting my phone down mid-text or accidentally flinging a yogurt-covered spoon across the couch, but these are sacrifices I’m willing to make. It’s science: A warm, purring kitty on your lap instantly makes winter suck less for everyone involved.
For several weeks, my boyfriend and I debated how to handle the impending Christmas tree situation. We vetoed a real tree because they shed needles, which the cats would inevitably eat. Given Bubba Lee Kinsey’s history (he’s been known to tackle trees that were seemingly out of his reach in a single bound), we weren’t sure an expensive artificial tree was the best route, either.
By the time we settled on getting a small tree and putting it on top of the bookshelf, Christmas was already upon us, so my boyfriend purchased a tiny, glittery, tree-shaped cutout from the Dollar General and tied it to the top of our floor-to-ceiling lamp. It’s still there, a daily reminder that when it comes to arguments, my cats always win without saying a word.
How do you help your cats survive the winter? Let us know in the comments!
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.