Winter Safety Tips For Your Cat

That time of the year when your “leaving the house” check-list goes…

  • Coat   √
  • Scarf   √
  • Hat   √
  • Gloves   √

The winter months can be just as hard on your pets as it can be on you. The Animal Hospital of Waynesville want to keep your cat warm and safe during the winter months. Here are some tips to help you and your pet though the cold months ahead.

Baby Its Cold Outside
  • Freezing weather can cause cats to suffer from hypothermia and/or frostbite.
  • Insulation such as straw and blankets are a good way to help a cat keep in body heat. Be careful using cedar shavings as they can be irritating to some cat’s skin.
  • Cats that live outside during cold weather may need additional calories to help sustain body temperature. Please check with your veterinarian before feeding your cat more.
  • Make sure that any water left outside does not freeze. Cats are not able to get enough water by licking ice.
  • NEVER leave your cat alone inside a vehicle during cold weather. A vehicle can act like a refrigerator causing your cat to freeze to death.
  • Outdoor cats like to find warmth wherever they can find it. So be careful when starting your car in the morning. Before starting a car knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off a hidden cat.
  • Antifreeze – Ethylene glycol is a chemical found in radiator fluid. Ethylene glycol is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, and it only takes a small amount to reach the lethal dose. Less than one ounce can cause death in a 10 pound animal.
    In the early stages of toxicity, where the antifreeze has been consumed within twelve hours, you will often see signs that mimic intoxication. Animals will appear “drunk” and are often walking unsteadily, vomiting, having muscle tremors, or feeling depressed. Peak absorption occurs very quickly in cats at just one hour and 3-6 hours in dogs. Between 12 and 24 hours, clinical signs include seizures or coma. You may note some temporary improvement in dogs during this time. However, after 12-24 hours in cats and 24-72 hours in dogs, acute renal failure occurs. You will see severe depression, changes in urination, and ulcers in the mouth with increased saliva. Death is very common at this point, especially without intervention.
    Treatment includes hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications to help support kidney function. It can take several days of hospitalization before a pet is able to go home, and the kidney damage can be permanent.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…But the fire is so delightful

Cold weather can make arthritis harder on senior cats even for those that stay mostly inside. If you notice that they are having a harder time getting up and down, reluctant to use steps or if they seem to be hurting, contact your veterinarian to see if and how medications may help reduce pain.

  • Try to bathe your cat as little as possible. Excessive bathing can remove essential body and hair oils. Removal of these oils can increase the likelihood of your cat developing dry, flaky skin. If your cats need a little extra bathing during the cold months ask your veterinarian to recommend a shampoo that adds moisture back to your cat’s coat.
  • When bringing your cats in from the snowy cold make sure to towel dry them to prevent itchy skin. This also helps to remove ice balls, salt crystals, and snow off of long-haired cats.
  • Most cats enjoy a nice cozy bed or blanket of their own to snuggle up in.


Walking in a Winter Wonderland
  • There are many things that can cause pain to your cat’s paws. Snow, salt, and chemical de-icers can hurt their paws.
  • Be careful when walking on roads or sidewalks where de-icers have been used. Some can be toxic if indigested (cat licks their paws).
  • Pay extra attention to your cat when you are around frozen ponds or lakes. Cats don’t know how thin ice is, and could potentially fall in. Once in the water they have a hard time getting back out onto the ice. Hypothermia can then become a real threat real fast.

One very important thing to be mindful of this winter is antifreeze. Antifreeze is VERY toxic to cats. Research shows that antifreeze has a sweet flavor and that most all cats will lap it up pretty quickly. It can only take a few licks to be fatal. Sometimes cats can be exposed by licking their paws after walking through spilled Antifreeze. If you suspect that your cat has come into contact with Antifreeze please call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Even though the weather can be bone chilling at times, this is a wonderful time to spend some extra one on one time with your cats. Take this time to enjoy snuggling by the fire with your beloved cat.