Caring For A Outdoor Cat? Here's How To Keep Your Feline Friend Healthy In Winter

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Although veterinarians and other health care experts routinely recommend that cats not be kept outdoors, there are situations where homeowners sometimes find themselves caring for an outdoor cat. For instance, perhaps you're feeding a feral feline that's wandered into your orbit, or maybe you've got rural property with a barn and depend on a barn cat to keep the rodent population in check. Whatever the reason, you can significantly increase an outdoor cat's odds of surviving a rough winter with a few simple strategies. Here's what you should do to keep your feline friend healthy in winter:

Provide Proper Shelter

You probably already know that cats need shelter in the winter, but not all shelters are equal when it comes to keeping them comfortable, safe, and warm. For instance, straw should be used instead of hay or even blankets because unlike these, straw has superior insulating properties and also resists moisture. The door of the shelter should only be large enough for the cat to fit through. Otherwise, predators such as coyotes may be able to enter the shelter. The cat will appreciate it if the shelter isn't out in the open but in a wooded area of your property if at all possible. Make sure to keep the area reasonably cleared of snow. Even though barn cats have the shelter of the barn, they appreciate having their own small den areas.

Don't Use Chemical De-Icers 

Although homeowners often use chemical de-icing on walkways, patios, and other outdoor surfaces in order to melt snow and ice, these products are potentially harmful to cats and other animals in two distinct ways. They can harm the tissue of the animal's feet to the extent where it's difficult or painful for them to walk, and they can also harm the animal's digestive tract by being swallowed as cats lick their paws as a part of their natural cleaning process. Even simple salt has the potential to be harmful. 

Use Heated Water Bowls

Even if the water in your cat's dish doesn't freeze, it can still be harmful to the cat's stomach if it's too cold. A heated water dish helps ensure that the water is at the right temperature. Keep in mind that cats evolved in a desert environment and aren't naturally acclimated to cold weather conditions. Also, because cats seek out warm environments during cold weather, it's essential to check under your car and even under the hood before driving off. 

To learn more about pet care, reach out to a veterinarian in your area.

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