Cats and changing Weather
Changing weather means changing needs for your cat, with the summer and winter months bringing particular problems for cats.
If you keep your cat indoors (or keep her in just for the winter) she won't be affected by the drop in temperature or the hazards of cold weather. But there are still a few things you can do to give your cat a little extra help.
If she normally sleeps on the floor, consider moving her bed somewhere higher to avoid drafts. If you have an older cat, or if your cat has arthritis, the cold weather may make her joints stiff and uncomfortable. She may find jumping difficult, so you'll need to help her find ways of getting to her favourite sleeping places, especially if they're high up.
You could move a chair or other piece of furniture to make a 'ladder' so she wont have to jump as high.
Out and about
Outdoor cats should be encouraged not to stay inside too much as the weather gets colder. The dropping temperature will encourage your cat's body to adapt by growing a thicker coat and building up winter immunities.
If your cat has an outdoor shelter, raise it off the ground. Frozen earth will draw out more heat than moving air. Turn the entrance away from the wind and consider laying down extra-bedding. Be careful though, to avoid anything that will retain moisture and freeze or become mouldy.
Cars and Garages
If she has access to your garage or car be careful when starting it up. Cats will sometimes sleep on top of the engines of parked cars because they provide shelter from the wind and are sometimes still warm.
Never leave your cat unattended in the car in the winter. The cold weather can quickly turn the inside of a car into a refrigerator.
If you leave food outside for your cat, check it a couple times a day to make sure it's not frozen. It is particularly important that your cat has unfrozen water. If she can't get clean water she could easily drink from sources contaminated by household cleaners, road-salt and anti-freeze. Anti-freeze is especially attractive to cats and extremely dangerous, so makes sure to clean up any spills on your driveway.
Summertime is flea- time. So you may want to talk to your vet about preventative flea treatments, especially if you have an outdoor cat.
If you have a white cat, her fur and skin won't provide enough cover to protect it from the sun. You'll need to put a dab of sunscreen on the tips of her ears and nose.
Never leave your cat alone in the car when it's hot. A cat can be severely ill or die from even short exposure to the extreme heat that can build up inside a car.
Both indoor and outdoor cats need extra water during hot weather, as they can easily become dehydrated. Watch out for the signs of heatstroke:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed over eyes
- Staggering, vomiting
- A dark red or purple tongue
If you think your cat has heatstroke you need to take her to a vet immediately. In the meantime try to lower her body temperature by applying cool (not cold or freezing) water to her body and letting her drink small amounts of cool (again not cold or freezing) water.
Allow your cat lick to lick some ice cubes and if you have ice packs you can apply them to your cat's head, neck and chest.
Cats are hardy animals and can handle most changes in the weather. A little assistance along the way will keep your cat happy and healthy.