Some cats love to prowl the great outdoors. They crave that outside time to satisfy their sense of adventure and curiosity. But if your cat will be spending time outside this winter, you may need to take a few steps to keep him safe. From frigid temps to salted sidewalks, those winter precautions for outdoor cats can be quite different from those you take in summer and spring. So if you want to protect your little explorer, here are a few steps to keep in mind.
Provide Some Indoor Shelter During Winter
Outdoor cats are pretty resilient, but when the temperatures dip below freezing, it’s typically best to provide an indoor area where your cat can stay warm. If you prefer not to bring your cat inside your home, setting up a space inside your garage will suffice, and if you don’t have a garage, you may want to consider building a new garage.
HomeAdvisor notes the average homeowner spends $16,821 to $38,715 on a new garage, which is a hefty investment, but you also need to keep in mind that adding a garage can also add value to your home. As you weigh your options, consider a detached garage. It can be more costly to build, but you’ll have more choices when it comes to location and added living space.
Keep Outdoor Water Sources From Freezing
It’s pretty much common sense that all animals need access to water in order to stay healthy. During the colder winter months, however, many owners of outdoor cats may forget that water left outside can freeze in certain temperatures. It can take a while for that frozen water to thaw, especially on cloudy days, so if your cat will be wandering around outside, you may need to think about ways that you can keep his water from freezing in the first place.
If you’re unsure about how to do this and you aren’t able to set up an indoor shelter during the day, then you will need to find other solutions for preventing frozen pet water. Pet Comments notes heated water bowls are an option, but if you prefer not to keep the water bowl plugged in, you can also set up an insulated box instead.
Protect Outdoor Cats From Natural Predators
As the weather gets colder, many animals find it more difficult to hunt and find sources of food. When food is scarce for wildlife during the winter months, it’s not at all uncommon for those animals to begin hunting in both rural and urban neighborhoods. While outdoor cats are pretty cunning and can typically outfox these natural predators, it’s still a good idea for pet owners to know which predators are most likely to endanger the lives of their outdoor cats.
Coyotes and raccoons top the list and frequently hunt neighborhood cats when they cannot find other sources of food, but birds of prey hunt smaller pets as well. You can always add an outdoor enclosure to your yard, which you can pick up from sites like Amazon for $100 and up; some cats are content with this option, and it provides your feline friend protection from predators.
Know Signs of Common Outdoor Cat Health Issues
No matter what the weather is like outside, you should always be checking your pets for indications of health concerns and issues. For cats, these warning signs can include changes in weight, frequent vomiting and or diarrhea, and changes in appetite. Of course, if your outdoor cat doesn’t seem as hungry and still seems to be at a healthy weight, then one of your neighbors may be feeding your sly feline as well.
Keeping outdoor cats safe and healthy during the winter can take a few more steps, but it doesn’t have to be more complicated. Cats thrive when they have adequate access to water, shelter, and safety, no matter the season. If you know your cat will be spending time alone outdoors, you should always provide those basics.