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Vet Q&A - Top winter tips for your cat

We recently held our Sure Petcare Winter Cat Care Vet Q&A with vet and behaviour specialist, Jon Bowen. Here are Jon’s answers to common questions about preparing your cat for the winter months.

Are the longer nights a problem for cats?

As the seasons change from autumn to winter, the nights are longer and it gets dark earlier, which can be dangerous for your cat due to the risk of road traffic accidents at night.  It is still important to allow your cat to have the freedom of the outdoors if this is in their normal daily pattern, but if you live in an urban area or close to a main, busy road, then it’s advisable to keep your cat in after dark.

Are cats sensitive to cold?

Generally, cats are pretty resilient to cold and their winter fur is enough to protect them.  However, when the temperature changes suddenly in autumn, your cat may still have his/her summer coat.  Your cat should still be OK as long as he/she can get inside or find shelter when it is raining. So, allow your cat to continue to come in and out of the home freely but make sure the cat flap is working properly (check the batteries if it is electronic), and consider leaving a shed or greenhouse door open as an extra place for your cat to shelter.

For indoor cats, heating can also be an issue.  We often turn the heating off when we go to work, but this can leave the house very chilly for our cats.  Consider using a modern electronic thermostat that can keep your heating ticking over at a low level all day, or better still get your cat a heated bed so that he/she can choose where to sleep when it is cold.

My cat puts on weight in the winter, is it time for a diet?

Healthy cats gain a bit of weight in the winter, sometimes as much as a few hundred grams because they are less active and tend to eat a little more.  This is normal, and your cat will shed that extra weight during the spring and summer months.  However, if you are concerned that your cat may be gaining too much weight it is important that you get advice from your vet.

At least I can stop using the flea spray?!

In the dead of winter, flea numbers should go down, but in autumn flea numbers may actually spike. When we turn on the heating, it creates a perfect environment for fleas and larvae to become active.  We also tend to vacuum more, to keep floors clear of mud and dirt, but the vibrations cause even more new fleas to hatch. Right now is the best time to thoroughly apply a household flea spray, to kill off remaining fleas and larva, and this works even better if you apply the spray after a thorough vacuuming. That way you will kill off the new fleas as they hatch. You may be able to leave out the on-cat flea treatment in the middle of winter, but keep it up for now.

My cat is hanging around the house a lot, will he get bored?

After an active outdoor summer, visiting the neighbours’ houses and the local pub, and chasing insects in the garden, our cat has suddenly started spending a lot more time indoors. It’s his choice, but outside it is wet, cold and he has nothing to do. Like most cats at this time of year, he is getting a bit bored and frustrated, so we try to provide more stimulation at home. That means activity feeders, and his favourite toys and games. Use toys to encourage your cat to spot, stalk and pounce as if he/she is hunting prey.

You can view the Sure Petcare Winter Cat Care Facebook Live at any time by visiting our Facebook page.

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