Winter Cat Chills

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As winter closes in there are some considerations to be made in concerns to our cats. Pet Insurance Australia catches up with Dr Richard Gowan from The Cat Clinic in Melbourne for some top winter tips to keep your beloved feline warm and healthy this winter.

Cats are masters at finding warmth around the home. For many cat lovers it’s a marvel to watch our beloved cats finding the sunny spots or best heated areas around the home to curl up in and take a lazy afternoon nap.

“Cats always find the warmest and most comfy spot in the house, a fur coat is a great insulator,” Dr Gowan says. “Most households are more than toasty for cats, but they will always find a sleeping spot in front of the heater or fire, on our beds and any sunny winter perching spots – our cats fight over the Foxtel box due to its radiant heat source.”

It’s a good idea to monitor where you cat likes to catch some rays during the cooler months. Perhaps consider moving perches to these areas or putting a nice warm bed in the direct sunlight or beside the fire.

What about health?

During the cooler months our cats can be more predisposed to certain aliments, such as colds and arthritis complaints.

“Common complaints we see are related to environmental changes related to the cold airway disease and allergies with the change of seasons,” Dr Gowan says. “Stress related urinary disorders also spike likely due to the change in household routines related to the cold. The cold tends to exacerbate osteoarthritic complaints.”

To keep your precious kitty healthy there are some important things to consider. Diet plays a huge role in the health of your cat, ensuring you are feeding a well-balanced and nutritionally sound diet is important to the health and wellbeing of your cat.

It is also a good idea to make sure the areas your cat like to sleep are warm and draft free and also keep an eye on your felines behaviour. For instance what changes when winter arrives? Are you shutting a certain window or door that your cat likes to use?

“Feline urinary syndrome increases in frequency during environmental stress,” Dr Gowan says. “One common trigger is household changes. cats love our predictable household routines to develop coping skills. Changes to weather patterns, especially the first real winter spell, changes our household routines, closed door, windows etc and maybe even our moods.”

He advises that cats that are prone to stress triggered urinary disease can suffer associated flare ups because of these winter routines.

For outdoor cat it’s also good to note that with the cold, stray cats may come closer to households for shelter and food, this may be an enormous stressor for your cat. Keeping any eye on your cats behaviour during these months is important, as too seeking professional feline veterinary help quickly if your cat does start to exhibit any stress related behaviour or illness.

“Identifying and minimising these triggers or spending more time interacting with and stimulating your cats instincts like playing and pouncing can help.”

Litter box cleanliness is also paramount during the cooler months when your outdoor cat is much more likely to use the litter box.

Arthritis?
Many cats suffer with arthritis without treatment. The fact is our cats are masters at masking their pain and discomfort. If you notice that your feline friend doesn’t like to jump as much or climb, is stiff after lying down, or has a slight limp, veterinary treatment and diagnosis is vital. Your cat could be masking an immense amount of treatable pain.

“Arthritis therapies and supplements will ease winter aches and pains, home changes such as steps and ramps will minimise the stress on sore limbs,” Dr Gowan says. “Heated beds are also a nice remedy for sore joints.”

Also keeping your cat active during the older years as they are much more inclined to sleep than pounce. Encouraging your older cat to keep moving is good stimulation for the brain and body.

  • household modifications – think ramps
  • joint supplements – chat with your vet
  • pain management  – chat with your vet
  • diet modification – age appropriate
  • weight loss – obesity is hard on joints
  • regular activity – keep your kitty moving and interacting
  • heated beds – great for sore joints
About the Doc

Dr Richard Gowan started the Cat Clinic in Melbourne in 2005, which is now Melbourne’s largest cat only clinic. He regularly presents lectures on feline medicine at Veterinary conferences and is actively involved in veterinary continuing education in all areas of feline health and medicine. Richard is actively involved in advancing the Veterinary profession and has served on various committees within the Australian Veterinary Association over the past 17 years.
www.catdoctor.com.au

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