Although it would be easy to simply say keep your cat indoors away from the elements and hazards of the outdoor world, the fact is there are many cats that live outdoors for a variety of reasons. These cats could be lost, abandoned or even feral but no matter the reason, they need our help to stay safe.
The following is only a few examples of what dangers these cats can face out there in the cold and most of them, we can prevent.
Frostbite: Even though outdoor cats usually have a fuller, thicker coat, they can still be affected by the cold. Frostbite can affect exposed paws, ear tips and tails. Sadly, if the temperature is cold enough, they can even freeze to death from hypothermia.
Antifreeze and other chemicals: Antifreeze is toxic! Unfortunately animals like the taste and smell of antifreeze. Because of its rapid absorption, once a cat takes even a small amount, there is a very good chance of death. It is best to ensure all chemicals are properly cleaned up after spills. It is also recommended to pour litter or sawdust over the area where it was spilled in an attempt to absorb any that might remain
Salt: Although salt can protect us from slips and falls, cats who walk on this can irritate or even burn their paws. They may also ingest it while grooming themselves which in turn can cause toxicity as well. There are pet friendly salts available on the market at places such as Canadian Tire.
Snow: It might sound strange to simply add snow to the list, but what lives under the snow is the real danger. Cats are smart but they can’t see what they are stepping on. Dangerous objects such as nails or glass can hide under the snow causing lacerations. If left untreated it can also lead to infection. If you see a cat that looks like it needs help, please call your local animal control or us as we can direct you to the proper people.
Cars: Unfortunately in an attempt to stay warm, cats will often take shelter under the hood of a car. This most often ends in tragedy and here at Briarwood Animal Hospital, we have seen this first hand on more than one occasion. It is good practise to knock on the hood of the car and honk your horn before starting your car, especially on the cold cold days. You just might save a life.
Winter can be dangerous to all animals and especially to outdoor cats. We can certainly help them by not only ensuring we keep chemicals away and checking our car but we can also go one step further and that is providing food and shelter for these poor souls. There are many websites that show you how to easily and affordably build an outdoor shelter. Please don’t hesitate to call us here at Briarwood Animal Hospital if you would like more information on these shelters.
Written by: Allison Stewart