The physical difference that can be witnessed on outdoor cats gives some cat parents the idea that it is safe for them to remain outside during the cold, long winter weather months. This, however, is not actually the case.
Take Henry for instance. Henry is part feral. He does not necessarily like to stay inside for long periods at a time; even prefers eating his food outside rather than in. Mark, his human dad, allows Henry the freedom he desires but adapts Henry’s outside environment as the weather changes in Michigan occur.
As the weather begins to change, so does Henry’s appearance change. His somewhat measly looking fur and tail become full and bushy. He eats more to build up fat stores and he takes refuge under the deck when the weather gets too bad. If he is sick and tired of the cold, snow, ice and wind (who isn’t these days?), he just goes inside to warm his paws and Mark makes certain that he his drinking water and eating sufficiently so that he will not get sick or falter in the Michigan weather.
While Mark is away at work, although he leaves Henry bowls of water on the deck, they tend to freeze in the frigid climate. Immediately when he returns, he refills Henry’s bowls so that the water is not only fresh, but so that Henry will not get his tongue accidentally stuck on a block of ice and so that he will not drink tainted water from other places that could make him ill.
Henry is not big on using a cat house. He prefers some straw or grasses placed under the deck in which he can snuggle up in if he needs refuge from the cold and wind. Towels and blankets can get wet and freeze, so they would not do the cat much good even if he liked them!
One of the most important parts of having an outdoor cat is to watch that they do not lick up any antifreeze solution or crawl up under the hood of a car to cozy up to a warm engine. Cats can get caught in a fan belt which can cause serious injury or their demise. In order to keep your cat safe, simply bang on the car to alert the cat so it has an opportunity to get out from under the hood.
Don’t let the cold weather get to your outdoor cats. Protect them in as many ways as possible. If they will stay indoors, allow them and set up a special place for them. If not, make accommodations that will help them to stay safe and secure.