Cats are pretty well adapted for cold weather, but when the temperature drops below freezing, they become more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia is a major concern during colder weather, especially for outdoor cats and occurs when cats' body heat drops to extremely low levels, usually after being exposed to frigid temperatures for too long or as a result of having wet fur in cold, windy environments.
Frostbite is the skin and tissue damage caused by exposure to extreme cold. It's seen most often on the tips of the ears, nose, tail, and toes, or any area where the hair is thin.
Vaccinations are a cornerstone of preventive care. It's important to keep your cats' vaccinations up-to-date to protect them against certain infectious diseases which proliferate more in the winter months. It's also a healthy practice to take your cats to the vet every 6 to 12 months for a checkup, and your vet will be able to provide ways to bolster your cats' immune system.
Diet is a key factor in optimizing your cats' health because a well-nourished cat is better equipped to cope with harsh weather. Cats will require extra calories and fat during the cold weather months in order to maintain their energy requirements. Also, make sure to keep plenty of fresh water available at all times.
A winter cat shelter can be very handy when your cats are outside and you may not be around to let them in. Making an outdoor cat shelter not only helps an outdoor cat, but it can be beneficial for feral and stray cats as well.
Give your cats a cosy and toasty place to curl up for a nap by offering some bedding. In hairless cats, the absence of fur makes it difficult for them to conserve body heat. If you have a Sphynx or another type of hairless (or almost hairless) cat, invest in cat winter clothes to maintain their health.
Featured image by Mark Burnett