Cats and Cold Weather – Pet tip 211
Even though we see cats outside in temperatures ranging from zero to -15 degrees Celsius and colder, it does not mean that cats can survive outdoors in the winter. The brutal fact is that the winter kills many tens of thousands of cats each year and this figure includes both domestic housecats as well as feral or stray cats.
Although you may have chosen to allow your domestic cat to have access to the outdoors in general, the winter is the time to keep the doors closed for the entire season. Even though some cats can grow a really thick coat in the fall in preparation for the winter, it simply isn’t enough to keep them from freezing to death. Aside from that, outdoor cats see many threats like cat-hating humans, cars and other cats that it may try to avoid but the cold air is simply unavoidable. It doesn’t take long at all for a cat to become hypothermic or suffer from frostbite. Just because you let your cat out in the middle of the winter and it comes back, it does not guarantee that it will come back the following day. If you love your cat, please keep it inside for the entire winter no matter how often it begs to go outside. You cat will stop begging eventually and you can let it out again in the springtime if you should so choose. You should know that on average, an exclusively indoor cat will live about 6 years longer than cats that go outdoors.
One of the obvious key things that both stray and feral cats do when it is really cold outside is to seek warmth wherever they can find it. A domestic cat may want to play when it gets outside but if it’s too cold, the only thing that the cat wants to do is seek warmth. Common places cats try to seek refuge is near heating/dryer vents of any kind, under or in any type of shelter (abandoned or not) and underneath/near the actual warm engines of cars that are parked. Tragedy can happen if they are still there when the car is restarted. Please KNOCK on the car and HONK the horn a few times BEFORE starting your car in the winter. It normally scares any cats in your engine to leave immediately.
Since stray cats have nowhere good to go during the winter and there are people that want to help strays that hang around their houses and apartments, something to consider is constructing a makeshift shelter so that the cats can survive. Makeshift shelters are actually quite inexpensive to construct, and if built correctly will save one or several cats’ lives when the weather is simply unbearable. This link shows how to construct a shelter for feral or stray cats. When it comes to your own domestic cats though, please keep them inside all winter long.