Cat sat in snow

As the temperature drops and the winter months set in, your cat will need a little bit of special attention in order to stay warm, happy, healthy and safe. There are certain hazards that you need to look out for in the winter that could be dangerous to your feline friend. These are risks that are specific to the season, just like you would watch out for sunburn and heatstroke in your pets in the summer months.

Here are some important tips to help keep your cat safe this winter:

Look Out for Frostbite

If your cat will be going outside during the winter months, make sure that he or she doesn’t stay out for extended periods. Cat’s small bodies can quickly dip to very cold temperatures and they can experience frostbite on their paws, noses, ears and tail. Bring your cat inside after a short amount of time, especially when the temperature is below freezing. You might even want to consider keeping your cat indoors a lot more throughout the winter.

Look out for signs of frostbite. It will look like pale, white or glossy skin and it will often show up on the footpads, tail and ears. If you think that your cat has frostbite, you should contact your vet immediately. 

However, it is best to avoid this completely by limiting your cat’s time outside in the cold.

Preventing Burns

When the weather outside is cold, your cat will seek out the warmest spot to take a nap. This can be dangerous, especially if your cat decides to nap near a fireplace, space heater or wood stove which could burn them. Keep an eye on your cat and make sure that you check inside stoves and fireplaces and behind heaters before turning them on. Sometimes your cat will want to curl up in the wheel well or the hood of the car to be close to the warm engine, so always honk the horn or bang on the hood before you start your car up.

Avoiding Antifreeze Poisoning

In the winter months, many people use antifreeze in their cars and this chemical is extremely toxic for cats. Unfortunately, it has a sweet taste so when a cat finds some antifreeze that has been spilt on the ground they are likely to lick it up. Even an amount as small as a teaspoon can be terribly poisonous and life-threatening to your cat.

In order to avoid this, make sure that your vehicle isn’t leaking any fluids and that you keep your antifreeze containers safely stored away and clearly labelled. If you spill any antifreeze, clean it up immediately.

Check On Their Paws

When your cat comes in from the outside, check their paws and make sure that they are not sore and irritated from the salt and grit that is placed on the roads during the winter. Sometimes this salt can get trapped between the foot pads and can be painful and uncomfortable. You can help your cat by gently cleaning off their feet with a warm cloth. If the skin looks broken or irritated, you might want to keep them inside to give their paws a chance to heal properly.

Be Aware of Winter Weight Gain

In the winter it is colder and the days become shorter, so your cat will naturally not exercise as much as he might during the summer. Make sure that you are monitoring his food intake and weight gain, so that he doesn’t pack on the pounds during this season. Obesity is a major health problem in cats and it can contribute to a number of other issues including diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and much more. You might need to reduce your cat’s diet in order to stop him from gaining weight over the winter and play games with him inside the house to encourage him to exercise.

Keep That Poinsettia Out of Reach

Many people keep poinsettia plants in their homes during the Christmas season as traditional decoration. However, what you might not know is that this pretty red flower is poisonous to cats. Its leaves contain a sap that will make your cat very sick if ingested in large quantities. It is unlikely that your cat will eat a lot of these leaves because they taste quite bitter, but it is a good idea to keep all poinsettias out of your cat’s reach just in case.

Also avoid having any Lily plants in your home, as these are very toxic to cats and they can cause kidney failure. If your cat has chewed on a Lily plant you should contact your vet immediately.

Care for Feline Arthritis

Does your elderly cat suffer from arthritis? As in humans, arthritis in cats is also aggravated by cold weather. Do your best to make your cat more comfortable by supplying them with a nice warm bed and providing them with a hot water bottle or a heating pad. This will ease the discomfort in your elderly cat’s joints. You can also talk to your veterinarian about appropriate treatments and painkillers for your cat’s arthritis.

The Dangers of Traffic Accidents

In the winter your cat has a much higher chance of being hit by a car. The roads are slippery, visibility is low and the sun sets early. There is usually an increase in road traffic accidents in the autumn months - right after the clocks change. In order to avoid this, make sure that your cat is back safely inside when it gets dark and rush hour begins. You should also have your cat micro-chipped so that if they wander off or anything happens to them you can locate them right away.

These are just a few of the dangers that your cat faces when the weather gets cold and winter rolls around. Make sure that you are aware of these risks, so that you can protect your cat and keep your feline friend happy and safe while getting some peace of mind yourself.