Cat owners! Have you woken up in the night with a wet nose burrowing under the covers? Has your pet been miaowing by the radiator, and grumpily finding cosy corners to sit in? There’s a good chance that they could be feeling the cold just as much as you. Yes, it’s a little neurotic to start buying a stash of electric blankets to swathe your kitty in, but there are a few easy (and cheap!) things you can do to keep them warm in winter.
Vicky Anscombe, writer for Animed Direct, urges pet owners to calm down, first and foremost. “If your cat is young, fit and healthy, try not to panic – cats’ coats get thicker in winter to accommodate freezing temperatures, and they’re built to withstand it,” she says. “However, there’s no denying that all cats love a warm place to sleep, and older cats, or cats who have been poorly, will especially appreciate a cosy nook to hide away in.”
Many cat owners swear by microwaveable heating pads, or plastic hot water bottles. Always make sure that the stopper is secure, and that the water bottle or pad is covered by a thick cover, such as a towel or blanket, or your cat won’t be able to sit on it. Lots of pet owners swear by hot water bottles, and suspect that their cats secretly enjoy the wobby waterbed sensation they produce! Pop these into your cat’s bed, and watch them snooze all night.
You may find that your cat is less inclined to go outside during the winter, and this is a behavioural trait that you shouldn’t try to alter. If, for whatever reason, you have to lock your cat outside all day, make sure that they have a sheltered, secure area with plenty of fluffy materials to curl up in if they’re caught short by rain, storms, or snow. You could always pop the hot water bottle in their outside ‘den’ before you leave in the morning to ensure they stay toasty all day. However, if your cat is showing signs that he or she would definitely enjoy being kept indoors for the meantime, let them – never force your pet to go outside.
Warming food always goes down well – and during the coldest months, there’s nothing wrong with dishing up a tasty breast of chicken or a piece of fish to keep your cat’s appetite fired up. Many supermarkets sell cheap cuts of chicken and coley that can be microwaved and mashed up – but always remember to check for bones if you’re serving up fish. Lots of cats also enjoy a whisked egg occasionally, but this is a once-in-a-while treat.
If your house or flat has heating issues, and you’re genuinely concerned for your cat’s well being, you could always look into getting a heat pad for your cat. These will provide a localised heat source that will have cats rolling around in a state of semi-ecstasy. However, never use them if you’re popping out for the day, and always use them under supervision. If you have to go out all day and you’re still concerned for your cat, another way of ensuring a great heat source is to build your cat a ‘nest’ using a spare cardboard box filled with an assortment of blankets that he or she can arrange as they see fit. It’ll take them a while to heat it up, but once they’re in, they won’t want to leave.
Lots of people have rules about their cat sleeping on their bed, but during winter (allergies permitting), it might be nice to allow them to snuggle with you at night. Not only will this allow you to bond with your pet, but they’ll also be kept nice and warm all night at no extra cost, due to your body heat keeping them comfy. Plus, if you can’t sleep, there’s always someone around to play with – and you’ll have a furry friend to hand when you get up in the morning.
“Common sense applies with cats and winter,” Vicky adds. “There’s no need to go cranking your heating up to intolerable levels, or forcing your cat to wear a little jacket! However, a little bit of comfort will go a long way, and you cat will love you all the more for it.”