If you allow your cat outdoors all year round, there are some measures you will need to take with his food to ensure he is kept healthy and safe
- wintry weather keeps many of us indoors as much as possible but cats who are free to roam will still want to spend some time outside regardless. If you leave food outside for your cat it is important to take account of the weather conditions.
Feeding Outdoor Cats In winter
Outdoor Cats Shelter
Although a outdoor cat’s winter coat will give a certain amount of additional warmth and protection from the elements, provide some kind of shelter for the cat’s food and water for when they need it. Don’t make the shelter overly large as it will be difficult for the cat’s body heat to keep it warm. Placing straw on the floor and adding a pillow case stuffed with straw or shredded newspaper then sewn up along the opening provides a comfy place to rest. Replace straw and newspaper when they become moist. outdoor cats
Outdoor Cats Food And Water
It is better to place food and water just outside the shelter. Water can be easily spilled and a wet floor or floor covering can freeze, making life very uncomfortable for the shelter’s occupants. It will also prevent the shelter from warming up as efficiently as it should. Wet food will be liable to freeze so place some dry food down too, remembering to stick to the correct portion size and not doubling up!
The best type of bowl to use outside is one made from a thick plastic. Thin plastic can soon become brittle in cold temperatures and a metal bowl will freeze along with what it contains. This can be extremely dangerous as the cat’s tongue can stick to the bowl if it comes into contact with it. If your cat is out and about as often as normal, it may require more food than normal if it is using up more energy to get around in snow, for example. You should monitor your cat’s weight if you are tempted to give additional food or slightly larger portions. The risk being that your cat is not using as much energy as you think and then it becomes overweight or obese, leading to health problems. We are very lucky in the UK and most of us rarely see enough snow to cause major difficulties. Turning this on its head, as it were, it may be that you are feeding the correct amount in winter time and your cat does not require as much food during the summer months when he may rest more on warmer days. Monitoring your cat’s weight is so important to achieve a healthy weight according to lifestyle. Indoor cats will rarely need extra calories over winter as they are much less active than a cat allowed to roam freely outdoors. outdoor cats
You may feel like your cat deserves more treats at this time of year – after all, humans usually go to town with all sorts of indulgent foods over the Christmas and New Year period. Care must be taken with feeding tidbits to your cat as human food will, on the whole, not do him much good. The occasional morsel of cheese is OK, as is a tiny piece of cooked chicken or tuna/fish. Treats produced specifically for cats will include a balance of nutrients required to maintain a healthy diet but even so, moderation is the key. Try not to give a treat just because your cat is asking for it but use it as a reward for good behavior. For a cat that has been less active than it should, perhaps because it is staying inside more over the winter, offer the treat as a reward following an energetic game with a toy or for allowing you to put him in a harness and walk around the garden. outdoor cats
There are supplements designed to boost your cat’s diet during winter time but if your cat is fit and healthy and you are feeding a complete diet, these may not be necessary. Before giving your cat supplements of any kind, consult your vet. outdoor cats
With all of the above, keep in mind that every cat is different and make allowances for your cat’s age and usual lifestyle. If you are in any doubt, consult your veterinary surgery for advice.
BY CORINNE MANSFIELD