As the cold months of a Vermont winter approach, pet owners must be aware of the changes in their fuzzy friends habits. Outdoor cats tend to want to be indoors more of the time. If you have several, like myself, you notice that food supplies dwindle a lot faster as they try to beef up (no pun intended) to stay warm. The feline community toilet (litter box) has to be scooped more often. You will find your cat sleeping in strange places in weird positions for very extended periods of time. Some cats like the sink, others prefer large house plants. Now is your chance to get soft belly rubs without getting your hands scarred for weeks.
It is a nice time of year for bonding for sure, but the winter brings new dangers to look out for as well. Always make sure your kitties (and other pet pals) have a warm place to take haven on really cold nights. If you don't have a way to get them inside already, try establishing a routine with bells and treats. Cats respond well to daily food rituals. If they hear a bell chiming and make the association with snacks or dinner (which they will over repeated tries), they'll learn to come running. Otherwise, a stubborn cat may try to tough out a freezing night outside before getting his nightly freedom revoked.
If you know your cat likes to hang around cars, be sure to check around for them before warming the engine. Watch out for antifreeze as well; cats, dogs and maybe free roaming pet hamsters might try to lick up the sweet tasting poison. Rock salt, chemical ice melts, and leaking oil can also be dangerous encounters. Be careful plowing your driveway too; cats and other small animals have been known to burrow in snow piles to stay out of the cold wind.
Inside your home, you should be aware of open flames and hot surfaces from your fireplace, space heaters, and other heating devices. I have a cat who burned some hair off of her belly because she stood over a burning candle; you never know what to expect.
Make sure to give them lots of love and play time as well; our pets get cabin fever too when the snow keeps them snuggled up in bed. Just like any season, getting to know your pet's habits will help you to take better care of them and be a better friend.