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Cold Paws, Warm Heart

Since your beloved kitty got a taste of the outdoors it’s been near impossible to keep her inside the house but as the leaves begin to change colour and the crisp cool air blows in, you’re worried. How will you keep her warm if she refuses to stay indoors?

Luckily, there are some things you can do to prepare comfortable spaces for your outdoor cat, strays who need shelter, or feline visitors to your yard during the fall and winter months.

Providing shelter from the cold is one of the first things you might consider as you prepare your backyard landscape for your outdoor cat, or feline visitors. There are plenty of D.I.Y options to make a suitable and inexpensive shelter. Alternatively, you can invest in one, should you feel so inclined. Whatever your preference, placement of the shelter is key. Placing the shelter against a tree, fence, or building that still receives sunlight can keep your cat’s outdoor home protected from cold temps, strong winds, and will be less likely spotted by predators. You might want to camouflage lodging with burlap, leaves, or branches. To prevent the home from flooding, raise it off the ground with a pallets or bricks. Just make sure the home is sturdy enough for your guests once it’s raised up.

To keep the inside of shelters warm and cozy, dress the interior with loose straw or newspaper. Important to note hay and straw are not the same. Hay is used as animal feed and will hold in moisture. Straw on the other hand will keep your cat dry, warm and safe. You can find straw for a reasonable price at most hardware stores. Your cat won’t care about the look of this less fashionable indoor décor. Instead, she’ll appreciate the warmth it provides and the ability to burrow in safe and sound on those bitter cold, stormy days, and nights.

Food and drink are another necessity for any outdoor cat, since maintaining a healthy weight will help your cat to stay warm and energized to find food on her own when the time is right. Placing warmed, canned food near the shelter during regular times each day will allow your feline friends to stay close to home. They’ll begin to learn when to expect a warm meal and can enjoy it before it gets cold. While warm canned food is a nicer option, be sure to leave out dry kibble as well so to provide nutrition for your cat in case the canned food is not eaten before it freezes. Even during the cold months, cats need to stay hydrated. Leave out a dish of clean water and check it twice a day to ensure it hasn’t frozen over. Alternatively, you can invest in a heated water dish or a solar pet dish that will keep water readily available for cats who need a drink.

Another way to keep your outdoor cat safe during the cool months is to walk your outdoor area on a regular basis noting anything out of the ordinary. This might include predators taking up residence nearby, an injured or weak cat who might be unable to get to the shelter or fallen branches that could be obstructing the entrance 2 to your cat’s outdoor home. Since cats tend to look for the nearest warm spots to rest during cold weather, check around car garages, under vehicles, and knock on the hood of your car before starting up the engine.

Finally, as a kind host, show your feline guests they’re welcome by sprinkling catnip at the entrance of shelters. This extra touch will help cats to feel calm and safe entering their new, winter home and they’ll be grateful for your hospitality throughout the cold season

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