Thursday, October 18, 2007

Winterizing Your Pet

Up here, in the land of drastic seasonal changes, winter will soon be upon us. Snow, ice, chilling winds--man, I can hardly wait. Fortunately, I'm able to come into the house when I'm cold, put on the appropriate number of layers while I'm outside, and blast the heater when I'm in the car. Pets can't voice their complaints, so rely on their owners to keep them safe from winter's woes.


I don't have to worry about my cat as she only goes into the backyard, with me, on warm, dry days. Cat owners, who do let their cats outside, should be aware that:

Cats seeking warmth under vehicle hoods can be killed by the fan belt once the car is started. I once believed this to be an urban myth, but it happened to a friend of mine (and to his own cat). He described the result as "kitty catchatorie". Cat owner or not, always bang on the hood before starting your car.

Cats like the taste of antifreeze. Not a good thing. Clean up any spills immediately.

If you must keep or let your cat outdoors in the winter, make sure they have a secure place, protected from the wind and the wet.


Now, dogs have to go outside (unless there's a stupid dog product called "The Doggy Litter" that I missed). Some dogs tolerate the cold well, but for those who favour warmer weather, then a dog coat might be just the thing. Yes, I know this goes against what I preached in my Dapper Dogs post, but as long as the owner isn't trying to make a fashion statement, I think it's okay.

If your pet is outside, check on him often because conditions can change suddenly. If you keep your dog outside all winter (brrr!), give them adequate shelter and a supply of fresh water.

Leaving a dog in the car during the winter months can be just as dangerous as it is in the summer months. A car holds the cold, acting like a refrigerator, so is potentially deadly.

I know you keep your pet safe, but perhaps your neighbour doesn't. If that's the case, why not print off this post and stick it in his mailbox? Anonymously, of course.


Lisa McMann said...

I remember vividly when I was a kid a cat getting mutilated by a car fan -- my next door neighbor's mom started up the car and there was this terrible noise. It was horrible. It definitely happens. So sad.

Lynn Sinclair said...

How awful! I'll bet that's one childhood memory you'd like to forget.

Heidi the Hick said...

Pet Protector strikes again!

I hope this doesn't turn into a horribly grotesque comment trail, but the fan belt thing...yeah, it's no urban myth. Or rural myth. Considering the huge amount of barn cats we had, we only lost two this way...but still. You hope they're quick enough to get away when the car door opens and closes. A tap on the hood is a good idea.

Raggedy Angst said...

"My" stray cat, Siam, likes to lie on the hood of the most recently driven car in the garage. I'm thinking of getting her an outside house, since she won't come in or let me touch her. Suggestions on how to do this? I'm worried about the local raccoon population and her getting trapped.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Heidi, cats in the fan belt must happen so much in rural areas. They should stay in the barn!

I suppose cars can't be made with covered fan belts? I'm sure there must be a reason why they have to go around naked.

Lynn Sinclair said...

You can also use your horn to warn any sleeping-under-the-hood cats, but I'm not sure how the neighbours will feel about that at 6:00 in the morning.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Angst, from what I've read, it's important that the cat become acclimated. Since Siam is always outside, then you don't have to worry about that.

But you should provide a bed for her where she'll be protected from wind, rain, snow and other animals.

There are outdoor cat houses:

Outdoor Condos for Cats

A little pricey. You could build one yourself. How handy are you and Nucleartoast? If you decide to go this route, just make sure you use untreated lumber.

I think anything that is enclosed and off the ground would do the trick. You could even buy one of those big Rubbermaid containers, prop it up off the ground, cut a hold in the side (just big enough for her) and insulate it with something that won't harm the cat. It won't be a model home, but it would keep her relatively warm and dry. You could line it with straw, newspapers or bedding--just check every day to make sure it isn't damp. I'm all for multi-purposing, so I like this idea.

Check out the furniture and household good sections of the local Sally Ann, Goodwill and Value Village--there might be something there that you could re-fashion into a cat house.

Keep her "house" away from her food as raccoons might be attracted to that.

Good luck. She's lucky to have you looking after her.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Hmmm...that link doesn't work. I'll try again:

Cat Condos

NuclearToast said...

It's a shame antifreeze doesn't work on pets (and people!) the way it does on cars, because then it'd be delicious =and= helpful.

Lynn Sinclair said...

You know how it is--anything that tastes good is usually bad for you. But I like the idea of edible antifreeze that keeps the organs working in subzero weather. A boon for the homeless.