Towcester Vets advice on keeping your outdoor cat inside over the winter

December 14, 2022

Winter is a time of fun and festivities; however, this season can be dangerous for outdoor cats. There are many hazards, from the freezing temperature to de-icer chemicals that can be fatal for your pet.

When the days and nights get colder and bleaker, the veterinary team at our Burcote Road practice recommend encouraging your cat inside more, so they are safe.

Health risk

When the weather takes a turn and drops below 7 degrees Celsius, this enters the danger zone for our household cats – especially shorthairs, elderly cats and young kittens. It is very easy for them to develop hypothermia or pneumonia, especially if they don’t have any shelter outside. Indoors, you can control the temperature and provide a blanket for them to keep warm, dry and safe.

It’s important to note though that forcing cats to stay indoors against their will can actually cause your cat to become stressed. So, unless there is a medical reason not to, you should allow your cat to go out if they want to.

Dangers outside

Often in the winter lots of antifreeze is used which seems harmless, however if your cat ingests it, there may be fatal consequences. Antifreeze is highly toxic for our feline friends, so be very aware of this in the mornings. In addition, cats often seek shelter in vehicle engines for warmth which can clearly be dangerous if they are left unfound. Road grit also poses a threat to their paw health as the pads can become irritated and inflamed.

For your own peace of mind

With all of the threats and hazards winter brings for our cats, it can be much safer for them to be kept indoors. This way, you won’t have to worry about them finding shelter and staying dry at night when the temperatures drop.

How do I go about implementing this change?

All of these reasons are well and good, but you still may have the problem of transitioning your outdoor cat from exploring all day to snuggling inside. So here are some tips from our veterinary team at Towcester Vets to help you encourage them that indoors is best.

  • Feed your cat indoors and every time they’re fed, keep them inside for longer to encourage a gradual change
  • Invest in scratching posts or cat trees to entertain them and urge them to stay inside, as they can still carry out natural activities such as scoping out what is going on from a high spot. This will also help prevent them from scratching the furniture.
  • Add more enrichment to their everyday lives such as treat balls, food puzzle boxes or even a play session with you!
  • Provide them with their own comfy space where they feel safe, warm and happy.

So, is it cruel to keep your outdoor cat indoors over the winter?

Not at all! As long as you are providing sufficient indoor enrichment, love and care, your cat will be relatively safe from the hostile dangers of winter. This doesn’t mean you have to always keep them inside. If the day is a bit warmer of course you can let them outside, but our Towcester Vets nursing team advises that you don’t keep them out for too long – especially not overnight!

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