Pet Winter Safety (cont.)
Pet Winter Safety for Very Young and Older Pets
Dog boots, cute coats, flashy collars, and leashes -- these are all meant to be used with healthy, adult pets in winter.
Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs and cats shouldn't be outside no matter how well-dressed. That's because they just don't have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.
When it's cold or wet out, veterinarians say it's vital to keep younger, older, and sick pets indoors.
Cats and Cold Weather: Transitioning an Outdoor Cat Indoors
Feral, abandoned, and lost cats: Many of us do our best to care for these cats year-round, but winter can be an especially tough time for an outdoor-only feline. Fortunately, some cats can be transitioned to the indoors, but you'll need to "start the transition several months before you anticipate really cold weather," McGeorge says.
The best time to begin the change is late spring or early summer when it's warm enough to leave a door or window open, she says. Then you'll need to "coax the cat in with food or treats. But leave the door or window open so he or she can easily escape."
Once the cat is accustomed to coming inside for food, start giving meals inside. Close the door or window while the cat is eating, but open it immediately if she gets panicked and wants out. The goal, McGeorge says, is to gradually let the cat see that coming indoors is safe and comfortable.
Remember that any cat kept inside needs stimulation, says Wynn, author of Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. So make sure your indoor environment offers lots for your cat to do. Wynn suggests regular play with laser pointers and cat toys, as well as cat trees and catwalks.