5 Ways To Keep Outdoor Cats Safe in Winter


The days are getting shorter and colder. In many regions of the U.S., the scent of wood smoke wafts through the air, and some days it even feels like it might snow. As winter comes on, outdoor cats face numerous challenges to their health and safety. Here are some tips for avoiding the worst of these cat winter hazards.

1. Keep your own cats indoors

Cats’ fur doesn’t protect them from extremely cold temperatures. When their fur gets wet from walking through snow or being outdoors in the cold autumn rain, they actually become more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite because their fur chills them instead of keeping them warm. If you let your cats outside, start getting them acquainted with spending time indoors until they get used to not going outside at all.

2. Give them shelter

To keep outdoor cats warm, build or buy structures where they can go to keep the weather out. Alley Cat Allies has rounded up a great list of outdoor shelters, from the basic to the elaborate, along with links to instructions on how to build them.

3. Don’t leave your cat in the car

We know cats can overheat very quickly if left in a car during the summer, but what most of us don’t think about is that they can freeze just as quickly. Your car can be a refrigerator as easily as it can be a furnace, so never leave your cat unattended.

4. Keep your garage clean

Antifreeze and puddles of gasoline, oil or other lubricants can be harmful and even fatal to cats. They aren’t attracted to the taste of petroleum products like they are to antifreeze, but if they step in oil or gasoline, they may lick the stuff off and could poison themselves by doing so.

5. Bang on the hood before starting your car

Year after year, we hear stories about outdoor cats suffering terrible injuries or being killed because they sought warmth in a car engine compartment. You can prevent this by simply slapping the hood a couple of times and/or beeping your horn before starting the engine. The noise will startle the cat and hopefully encourage him to make a hasty departure.

Do you have any other cold-weather cat-care tips or words of warning? Please share them in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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