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Old 02.12.2016, 10:50
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Winter Care For Cats

As a first time cat waiter living with an 11yr old ginger tom, I'm eager to hear any advice for caring for cats in Winter.

We're off to the vets this afternoon as Buggerlugs has got feline acne again, even though all his dishes are stainless steel, and has gone off his food, so I'll be asking the vet also.

Buggerlugs is primarily an outdoor cat. When all is well in his World, he'll happily spend several hours a day inside, but we cannot shut a door on him without all hell breaking loose. He spent 9mths in a Tierschutz when he was 6yrs old, so I'm inclined to think this may be the reason he yowls the house down if the kitchen door is closed. We live in a rented apartment and the kitchen has a full length glass door, so we can't have a cat flap, but his previous owner did have one and Buggerlugs refused to use it until the flap was removed.

On Monday night, as -5 degrees was forecast overnight, I brought the cat in but he yowled for an hour and hid in a cupboard all night. When we let him out in the morning, he didn't come home until late in the evening and was very skittish, making a run for the door if we got too close to him.


So a few questions for other cat owners please...

When do you bring your cat indoors in Winter? Below freezing? Snow? Frost?

Has anyone tried using a cat doorbell? I'm seriously thinking of getting one.

Has anyone successfully treated, or prevented recurrent feline acne without resorting to the vet?

Thank you from me and our Buggerlugs (not his real name)
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:14
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Our cats back in DK have alwas had the option to be outside even in the coldest winters. Never had a cat door, so the cat would just go in and out with us. or sometims give a miauw or twi if it wated to get out or in.
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:15
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Could you make him a little cat house outdoors rather than making him come in? Line with various layers of blankets & polystyrene?
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:17
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Place the cats head on the cat flap and push him through

Repeat until he learns how to use it

May take a few repeat lessons, but he will learn

Bribe accordingly with food/snacks/bits of dead fish
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:17
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

I had company over last night and she mentioned that she has a full glass door, and had new glass installed with a cat flap built into it. She keeps the original glass in the keller for when she moves out some day.


This might be the best option for you and your cat.
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:24
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

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When do you bring your cat indoors in Winter? Below freezing? Snow? Frost?
He's a cat - he will decide, not you!


One of ours (female and not territorial) basically stays indoors from October to April by choice. The other (male, territorial and constantly fighting) goes out whatever the weather and temperature and whinges constantly if you try to defy him.
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:26
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

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When do you bring your cat indoors in Winter? Below freezing? Snow? Frost?
Can never bring an outdoor cat inside, at least from my experience with my friend's cat... She would go nuts! She also does her toilet business outside so this it not even a possibility.

I would probably be inclined on installing a cat flap and train the cat to use it with rewards, it will take a long time to train him but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. Given that he is an outdoor cat, he will eventually use the cat flap and giving him a treat when he makes it on the other side would do the trick after a while.
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Old 02.12.2016, 11:50
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

The cat decides when he'll be in or out, not humans.

We never kept our cats in if they wanted out regardless of weather and temperature. But it's a good idea to provide a resting spot: Dry, preferably sheltered from wind and weather, with a folded piece of cloth for them to rest on in a "lookout" or perch(word?) position. A spot they sit on for hours already is usually a good start.
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Old 02.12.2016, 12:22
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

If you want to build him a shelter, you can find some examples here:

http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-...winter-shelter

Do NOT use blankets, that will keep the humidity, nor hey that is higher allergenic.

Basically, use a box (plastic), than a layer of Styrofoam (sides, top and bottom) for insulation and put straw on the bottom, which will dry fast if wet and is an excellent insulator. I put cardboard on the Styrofoam, so that it adds an insulation layer and if they scratch it, it won't break into pieces - so plastic-Styrofoam-cardboard, straw.

You'll need to cut a rectangle, 10-15 cm above ground as an entrance into the shelter.
Think of a way to open it (usually form the top), for the time when you need to change the contents (the straw need to be renewed from time to time).

Last edited by swissnyc; 02.12.2016 at 12:22. Reason: typo
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Old 02.12.2016, 12:31
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

I was renovating my house a few years ago and for some time the house was off limits (unsafe for humans and cats, strangers everywhere, wet concrete etc.). To provide visiting-me and living-there-cats with a quiet place I put up a tent in the garden. For winter I built boxes for them and put the boxes into the tent. Temperatures fell to -14C.

The best version was this:
3 polystyrene potato boxes (for 3 cats).

cut square hole into side of box

2-3 layers of transparent sheet of plastic, cut strips in bottom half of it, fix it to box with strong tape to cover hole
(like those plastic strip curtains in warehouses)

I put a string around the box – keeps the lid down and makes it easy to move the box around

I filled hay into the boxes (my cats love this) and it worked perfectly.

Luxury version: cut 2nd square hole on one side of the box and cover with firm plastic plate (= window)
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Old 02.12.2016, 12:39
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

We have no cat flap and our cat spends most of his nights outside even in the middle of winter.
He waits by the door to be let out and the he waits outside to be let in again when he feels like it.
He usually asks to go out at around 9.30/10 pm and is usually waiting to come in again at 7 the next morning.
It's totally his choice and we've tried keeping him in at night but unless the weather is really really bad he doesn't want to.

There are loads of outbuildings around here that he can use during the night and we're pretty sure we know where he spends most of them.

As for the feline acne, I didn't even know that cats could get acne.
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Old 02.12.2016, 16:52
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Thank you very much for all the advice and suggestions. There are some ideas I'll definitely look into, particularly the shelter ideas from swissnyc and jogpsa. I really appreciate the effort you've put into your posts.


For the time being, the vet has given our cat painkiller and antibiotic injections, Betadine to wipe his chin and, hopefully, prevent another outbreak of acne, and a Feliway plug in to calm his anxiety at night. The vet said he does need to be brought in at night when it goes below freezing. We also want him in because our old home has just been demolished this week, and Buggerlugs keeps going back there because it's only 300yds away. I want to keep him away at night until the site is clear so that he doesn't shelter there. Just let him outside and he's stalked back to old place now.


To my eternal shame, Buggerlugs bit the vet when she touched his chin. OH thinks it's hilarious, but he would because he wasn't there to deal with it.
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Old 02.12.2016, 16:56
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

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As for the feline acne, I didn't even know that cats could get acne.
Neither did I. I went for a few days thinking he'd rubbed his chin on the bbq, and kept trying to wipe the black smudge from his chin, but it turned out to be blackheads.
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Old 02.12.2016, 17:04
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Our cats have always gone in and out at will, winter never bothered them at all (well except for one who didn't like to get snow on his paws).

Cat flaps in a full glass door are absolutely possible, as someone else mentioned - you replace the full glass for one with a whole where you fit the flap, you keep the old glass and replace it when you leave. We had this in our apartment before we bought our own place. Another option is a cat flap in a smaller window and a cat ladder, my wife's old apartment in Zurich had a flap in the bathroom window and a ramp running the 2m down the wall to the floor on the outside.
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Old 02.12.2016, 19:42
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

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I filled hay into the boxes (my cats love this) and it worked perfectly.
Do NOT put hay in outdoor shelters. It is highly allergenic, will not dry well and can get moldy.

Please read this for details:
http://www.alleycat.org/community-ca...-cat-shelters/
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Old 02.12.2016, 20:02
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Re: Winter Care For Cats

Now it's got a bit cold, our cats are spending a little more time indoors. They love underfloor heating.

Cats have a fur coat, which you may have noticed is fluffing up for winter, so they don't worry about the cold.
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