Going On Winter Adventures With Your Cat? Here's What You Need To Know
Winter is a great time to explore the outdoors with your feline friend, whether you're strolling around town or going on a hiking trip in the mountains. With a little extra preparation and some planning, your cat could be the perfect adventure buddy.
What temperature is too cold for cats to go outside?
In general, it is safe for your cat to go on short adventures outside when the temperature is above freezing (32ºF/0ºC). If it is below freezing, keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and try to limit their time outside. You should bring your cat inside if:
- They have been outside for more than 20 minutes
- They start acting sleepy or sluggish
- They stop grooming themselves
- You recognize any symptoms of hypothermia
Any time the temperature drops below freezing, monitor your cat closely to make sure that they don't get sick or hurt in the cold.
15 Tips For Taking Your Cat Outdoors When It's Cold
Taking your cat on a winter adventure can be a challenge, but with some precautions, it can be done. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of each outing:
Keep your cat warm
If you're going to spend some time outdoors with your cat this winter, be aware of how sensitive they are to cold temperatures. Make sure to wrap your kitty up thoroughly before leaving the house – onesies, sweaters, and boots can protect them from the elements and keep their little bodies warm and dry. If you're going out for a longer trip, bring along an insulated bed – cats love to curl up in cozy spaces!
Make sure your cat is healthy
Take your cat to the vet before you head out on a long trip and make sure they get a clean bill of health. Get copies of their medical records, including shot certificates, just in case they need emergency treatment while you're away from home.
Make sure your cat is well-groomed
When getting ready for an adventure with your cat in winter, make sure your cat is well-groomed. Cats should be groomed regularly to prevent matting and shedding and help keep their coat healthy. When it comes to preparing for cold weather, this step is particularly important because long fur can get wet and frozen, which could lead to hypothermia.
Always fit your cat with an ID tag and a microchip
Some felines are prone to getting lost outdoors during winter months due to shorter days and poor visibility. Make sure your cat's microchip information is current and that they wear a collar with proper identification at all times when outside in case they get lost and someone finds them.
Keep your cat hydrated
In the wintertime, water freezes much more easily than in other seasons. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water at all times. Bring extra bowls so you can have multiple refills during the day, and make sure they don’t freeze over by using a bowl heater!
Protect your cat's paws
Even though your cat may have thick fur on their paws, they can still get frostbite if exposed to freezing temperatures for too long. When it is frigid outside, make sure you keep an eye on your cat's paws. If you notice any reddened or bluish skin or any swelling on their paws, take them to a vet immediately as this could be a sign of frostbite.
You should also be careful not to allow them to lick salt off their paws if they've been walking through salted snow or ice. While rare, it is possible for cats to ingest too much salt, which can lead to sodium ion poisoning. Sodium ion poisoning can cause vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea in cats.
If you want your kitty by your side when going on winter adventures, consider investing in a backpack that's specifically designed for cats. Cat backpacks are safe and secure ways to transport your furry friend on outdoor excursions.
Prepare your cat's outdoor gear
Outdoor safety gear is crucial for wintertime adventures with your cat:
Cats are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. While most domestic cats have a coat that can protect them from the elements, some cats need a helping hand in the form of a jacket, vest or sweater.
If you take your cat for a walk on snow, boots can keep their paws from being exposed to ice and snow. Boots will also keep your cat's paws warm when they aren't outside but are still walking around on the cold ground.
You want to make sure your cat can't run away if they get scared or see something interesting. Even if you plan on keeping them in a carrier, take a harness and leash with you for extra security.
You may not realize it, but cats do poop outdoors! This means poop bags are also needed in the wintertime if you want to pick up after your cat.
Prepare for unexpected weather changes
Your cat should have an easy way to get back inside no matter where you go, and you should be able to carry them home if they start showing signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with identification tags in case they get lost.
Pack an emergency kit
You never know what could happen during an outdoor adventure, so you must be prepared in case anything goes wrong. Put together a kit that contains three-by-three sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape and cotton balls, tweezers, and scissors. You should also include antibiotic ointment, an Elizabethan collar (to prevent your cat from licking wounds), styptic powder, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and latex gloves. It's also a good idea to prepare extra blankets and towels, a flashlight, extra food, and water.
Be aware of antifreeze poisoning
Antifreeze is extremely toxic to cats. It has a sweet taste, so cats are attracted to it. Antifreeze poisoning can happen if your cat licks up antifreeze from a puddle or spills on the ground. So you should clean up any spills immediately and store antifreeze out of reach of your cat. If this happens, call your vet immediately. Symptoms include vomiting and seizures, so getting help quickly is critical.
Make sure your car is warm
When traveling around in the cool winter weather, be aware that your cat may not take well to the changes in temperature. You should always make sure that your car is warm enough to keep your cat happy during the journey, and if you're going on a long trip, don't forget to take regular breaks so that they can refresh themselves and have a rest.
Take short trips at first
When taking your cat on an excursion during wintertime, it’s best to start small and work up to longer trips as they become more acclimated to new surroundings and sensations. A quick trip around the block might be enough at first but if you have time, try walking around a nearby park or neighborhood to see how your cat respond.
Watch for signs of anxiety and stress in your cat
Some cats get overstimulated by all the new sights, sounds, and smells they encounter. This can lead to unwanted behaviors such as excessive meowing, jumping off of high surfaces, or running off into the woods.
If you notice any of these signs, you should bring your cat back inside immediately. It is easy for cats to become lost or injured outdoors in winter.
Make sure your cat's food doesn't freeze
Freezing food is another common concern for outdoor cats in the wintertime. To prevent this from happening, use an insulated food container. You can also use a heated pet mat or bowl heater to keep kibble defrosted throughout the day if your cat eats wet food. This will help keep them well-fed, so they have enough energy for all their adventures!
We hope these tips will give you a little insight on how you can plan safe adventures with your cat during the cold winter months. Just remember to always bundle up before heading outside with your fur baby.