Feel good tips for the cold season

Most cats aren’t too fond of going outside in autumn and winter. When it’s cold and wet out, they prefer to stay in the warm. This is the perfect time to cuddle up, get cosy and enjoy some time together.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “This weather is not fit for man or beast”? It’s especially true for cats – because our furry friends absolutely hate cold, wet weather. Most cat owners know this scenario all too well: Missy meows loudly until you open the door for her, but after making a cursory glance outside she won’t even cross the threshold and heads back into the warm with her tail in the air. Her response to dreary, wet weather is clearly “thanks but no thanks”. In late autumn and winter, cats prefer to stay at home, seeking out a warm place to simply enjoy the peace and quiet.

Totally natural behaviour

You needn’t worry about her refusal to go outside though, as this is completely natural behaviour. Our cats’ ancestors were accustomed to a dry, warm climate in the desert and savannahs. As a result, cats have a natural aversion to cold, wet conditions and they respond to the change in weather with a drastic reduction in their activity levels. This is the time for more sleep and snuggles. Only animals who have to hunt for their food or who have particularly active temperaments like to go on long jaunts in autumn and winter.

Enjoy your time together

If your cat is exhibiting new, seemingly unusual behaviour, don’t give it another thought. Instead, use the time for some shared activities at home, because in this season you can enjoy the company of your cat more than at any other time of the year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to deepen the bond between you and your pet. You can choose between snuggles on the sofa or a round of games – as long as kitty enjoys it, anything goes.

New toys to put them in good spirits

To make sure that your cat doesn’t get lazy and fat, you’ll need to get more active with your armchair tiger. Alternatively, you should reduce the amount of food you give her, as your “free-roamer” needs a lot less calories at this time of year. However, introducing a couple more games is still better than reducing her feed. This isn’t only fun for your cat; it’s also a great way to boost your mood on a cloudy day.

New game ideas

Even the grouchiest cats can be jolted into action. You just need to find out what drives your pet wild, be it a new fur mouse, an extendible toy or perhaps a cat dangler. Use the opportunity to try out a couple of new things and expand your cat’s collection of toys. How about a laser pointer? The red dot running along the ground will jump start even the quietest of kitties. Be careful though – you should only buy laser pointers that are defined as cat toys, as anything else will be too strong. Also, you should only use the laser pointer for a short time, preferably alternating it with another toy. This is because the red dot will get your cat moving but she still can’t catch it for real. And if your cat doesn’t feel that sense of achievement, the game will just get her frustrated. So when playing with the pointer, you should combine the game with a successful hunting game in between, maybe for some treats, and finish up that way too.

Rustle tunnels are another good way to keep your cat busy. They are great for your cat to hide and frolic in, and the mysterious rustling effect ensures that the toy will stay interesting for longer. You can also hide treats or toys in the tunnel and encourage your cat to find the hidden “treasures”. This is a really fun way to keep her amused.
If your cat enjoys this kind of challenge, then she’ll love intelligence toys as well. There are several varieties, such as game boards, where treats can be placed between the pegs and hidden in the special recesses – your cat will need to use her senses to fish out her reward. Alternatively, you could fill a snack ball with dry food. When your kitty uses her skills to roll the ball across the floor, little treats fall out of the opening (you can read more about intelligence toys in this edition on pages 28-29).

Clicker training for cats

Clicker training is a good way to provide your cat with an exciting activity in winter and even teach her a couple of tricks. Really! It’s not only dogs that respond to clickers – cats can be conditioned too! Sit down in front of your cat with a couple of her favourite treats. Give your cat a treat immediately whenever you make a click. By repeating this process a number of times, your cat will soon come to associate the click with the promise of a treat. You can now start using the clicker to develop little tricks like having her give you a paw or getting her to balance on top of small obstacles. Not only will you both have fun, you’ll be keeping your lounge leopard mentally fit at the same time.

More peace and quiet for your cat

Make sure you don’t overdo it with activities though, because in late autumn and winter your cat actually needs to rest more. She now sleeps up to about 20 hours a day. This is why the cold season is also the time when she most likes to snuggle. You know your cat best of all, and you know how she likes to be stroked and spoiled. Does she like to be rubbed behind the ears, under her chin or on her tummy? Then go ahead and pamper her the way she likes it. Petting your cat will deepen your relationship too. If you like, you can use a grooming glove to make the experience even more beneficial. This will remove dead hair while gently massaging the skin, which is good for your cat’s health and well-being. For long-haired cats, you should use a soft brush and a wide-toothed comb. These cats need to be groomed every day, while their short-haired friends only need this every other day.

Beauty sleep

When your cat has played and snuggled enough, she’ll want to take a nap. In fact, at the moment she probably sleeps for the majority of the day. Naturally she’ll want to be comfortable, so make sure you know where her favourite snooze spots are. Most cats don’t only sleep in their own baskets – they also like to lounge on the radiator or on windowsills. You can make these areas warm and cosy by laying out a cover for her. Lots of cats feel extra special when you offer them somewhere new to sleep. Have you ever thought about giving her a cosy cave? Some cats are “cave-dwellers” and like to hide. That said, there are a few cats who don’t like this kind of sleeping chamber, and prefer a bed with a more panoramic view.

Stay off the supplements

Incidentally, your cat doesn’t need any additional vitamins or nutrients at this time of year. Her usual feed is more than enough. You can make sure she gets enough fresh air by airing your home several times a day. Should your cat actually want to go outside, be sure to dry her off thoroughly with a towel when she gets home. It’s also important that you check her favourite sleeping areas and make sure they’re not in a draught, as this can be dangerous for her health. If you get the impression that your cat’s immune system has weakened and she doesn’t seem well, then visit the vet so that he can prescribe the right medication. Even cats can catch a cold in winter, but treating them with household remedies or medication for humans is to be avoided at all costs as this could be highly poisonous for your pet!

If you follow our tips, your lounge leopard will get through the winter in good health – well-groomed, well cared for and well entertained!

Call into your local store today to discuss your cat’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts