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8 Ways to Keep Outdoor Cats Safe This Winter

By Stacy Painter
published: January 26, 2022 - updated: December 14, 2022 • 3 min. read
orange cat in snow

Despite falling temperatures, many outdoor kitties continue to demand their outside time. Though your cat may be oblivious to the seasonal changes, it’s important for you to look out for your furry friend and take preventive measures to avoid any potential winter hazards. Follow these tips to keep your cat safe without interrupting her outdoor routine.

Get ahead of the storms

Your job over the next few months is to diligently monitor the weather forecast. Be sure to bring your kitty inside if the temperature is expected to drastically drop or if a storm is on its way in. Prevention is a key pillar of keeping your cat safe!

Protect your pet

Put away the antifreeze

Keep antifreeze sealed and well out of reach, and clean up any spills or leaks immediately. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that is enticing to cats, but ethylene glycol, one of the key ingredients, is toxic to cats and can be fatal if ingested. Seek immediate veterinary care if you notice vomiting and loss of coordination, which are signs of antifreeze poisoning.

De-icers and salt

Wash your cat’s paws whenever she comes back inside in case she has been walking on salt or chemical de-icers. Unwashed paws will inevitably get licked, which can make your cat sick. If you are trying to keep your driveway clear of ice, opt for sand instead of chemicals. 

Use reflectors or lights to prevent an accident

With less daylight during winter, your cat faces an increased risk of being hit by a driver who didn’t see her. Look into purchasing a reflective or lighted collar for your cat or set a curfew so she’s not outside after sundown.

Check under the hood

Cat in a tire well

Outdoor cats, whether it’s your beloved kitty or a neighborhood cat, seek warmth on a cold day. A recently driven car will have a warm engine that may be alluring to a cold cat. Before starting your car, honk the horn or bang on the hood to alert any hiding kitties.

Waiting in a parked car

Leaving a cat in a parked car is dangerous on hot summer days, and it’s equally as hazardous when the temperatures drop. Though it may seem safe since the car is an enclosed space, it can get quite chilly inside, and your kitty has no way to stay warm. While running errands, it’s best to leave pets at home where they can stay safe and warm.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Though your cat has a lovely fur coat, she’s not impervious to cold temperatures. If it gets too cold, your cat may struggle to stay warm and face the threat of hypothermia, especially if her coat gets wet. Shivering, lethargy, and lack of appetite are all signs of hypothermia. In such a case, call your vet for advice on how to help your kitty recover. 

More food, please!

As your cat gallivants around in the cold (and possibly even snowy) conditions, her body is using more energy to maintain its core temperature. Because she is using more energy, your cat will need a slightly increased intake of calories.

Bonus: Care for the outdoor neighborhood cats

If there are kitties in your neighborhood who don’t have a permanent residence, they’ll be seeking shelter during the cold. Set up a box or other enclosure under a covered area with blankets or hay and provide fresh water and food. To prevent other wildlife from gobbling up the kitty chow, put it out at a certain time each day, so the kitties adapt to a schedule and are the first to arrive at the food.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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