Outdoor Cat

Dear Liz; my cat loves to go out at night, but I’m concerned about him being affected by the cold weather.  What should I do?

Signed,

Frozen in Farmington

Dear Frozen;

Well, being a cat owner myself I can tell you that you can’t tell a cat to do something it doesn’t WANT to do, and staying indoors when it wants to be OUTdoors is one of those things.

SO…. What do you do with a cat that insists on going out at night, despite the peril of coyotes and cold?

Prepare!  IF you absolutely can not keep your cat inside at night, make sure you have done the following:

  1. 1. Feed extra calories.  Calories give your cat the ability to keep warmer.  A little extra layer of fat means a little more insulation.  BUT be careful not to OVER feed him.  TOO much fat is not healthy!

  1. 2. Provide a warm spot.  Do you have a cellar window you can keep slightly open to allow the cat inside access?  What about a window in the garage or can you keep the door open just a bit? How about a dog house?  Use a VERY small one, and make sure it’s up, off the ground and away from direct wind.  You can “make” a shelter with bales of hay, too.  Just make sure it’s in an area protected from the wind.

  1. 3. Best choice, though, is to try and keep your cat inside at night.  Cats are, by nature, nocturnal creatures and as such, love to be on the “prowl” at night, but older cats and kittens really do need to be kept inside at night as they are not equipped to protect themselves outside.

  1. 4. Try keeping the cat in a few hours past the usual time it goes out.  Do this for a few days and then go even further with the time inside.  At some point, I know it’s going to be hard to wait (when you get to about 2am before you let the cat out) so at that point, try just going all night.

  1. 5. Reward the cat for the time it stays inside – Maybe a catnip toy will keep it occupied?  Ok, maybe it will make the cat insane and spastic but hey, you can at least TRY it!

So long and short of it is that I recommend trying to change your cat’s mind.  If that doesn’t work, make sure to do what you can to keep your cat safe.  Good luck!!!

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