by Amber Drake

How to Care for an Outdoor Cat in the Winter

How to Care for an Outdoor Cat in the Winter

Our beloved cats are more than just pets; they're cherished members of our furry family. With the arrival of the colder months, our attention naturally turns towards ensuring their health and comfort during this challenging season. 

Just as we adapt our own routines and habits to stay healthy in winter, it's equally important to consider the specific needs of our feline companions. 

Let's explore the ways we can keep our cats happy, healthy, and cozy as the temperatures drop.

Can Cats Go Outside in the Winter?

Cats can venture outdoors in the winter, but it requires careful consideration and preparation to ensure their safety and comfort. 

While some cats may enjoy exploring a snowy landscape, the colder temperatures and harsher conditions pose several risks. 

To keep your kitty as safe as possible while they’re outside, consider these tips: 

  • Limiting outdoor time: Limit your cat’s outdoor time to prevent the risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Their paw pads, ears, and tail are particularly susceptible.
  • Warm shelter: Create a warm shelter or outdoor cat house for winter for your kitty just in case they happen to need it. If you’re out and about, you can’t magically open the door to your house (unless you have a cat door). 
  • Toxins: Winter toxins, like antifreeze, are extremely toxic to our cats and should be kept out of reach. It’s often used in car radiators, and contains ethylene glycol, which is extremely poisonous to cats, even in small amounts. Its sweet taste can be tempting to curious felines, leading to accidental ingestion.
  • Warm engines: Cats tend to crawl up into the hood of a car or in the wheel wells to soak up some of the heat it emits. Before you drive off, check around the car for any potential kitties (they may not even be your cat). Then, as an added precaution, honk the horn. 

Try Keeping Cats Inside During Cold Weather

On top of keeping them away from the dangers discussed above, keeping your cat inside can be a wise choice for other reasons. 

Winter brings shorter days and longer nights, increasing the risk of your cat becoming lost or facing dangers like predators or road accidents in the decreased visibility, especially during blizzard-like conditions if you live somewhere where it snows a lot. 

Indoor environments provide a consistent, warm, and safe haven where your cat can stay comfortable and protected from the seasonal challenges. Keeping your cat indoors during winter also allows for closer monitoring of their health and behavior, ensuring any signs of winter-related issues like dry skin or changes in appetite are promptly addressed.

Tips for Exploration

If your cat is just begging to get outside, there are a few steps you can take to make it the safest experience possible (especially if your cat is mainly an indoor cuddler). 


A catio, or a cat patio, can be a wonderful addition for cats, especially in the winter. It provides them with a safe, enclosed outdoor space to experience the fresh air and stimulation of the outdoors while protecting them from the harsh elements of the cold season. 

Leash Walking

For cats, especially indoor ones, leash walks can provide essential mental stimulation and physical exercise, which might otherwise be limited when it's cold outside. Exploring a snowy landscape under your supervision allows them to experience new sights, smells, and sounds, keeping their senses sharp and their minds engaged. It also helps in maintaining their physical health, preventing winter weight gain that can occur from reduced activity.

Do Cats Eat More in the Winter?

Yes, cats tend to eat more during the winter months. It’s a behavior that's not just a matter of increased appetite but also a biological response to the colder environment. Through the winter, cats expend more energy to maintain their body temperature, which can trigger an instinctive response to pack on the calories. 

In other words, they instinctively consume more food to compensate for this extra energy expenditure. This is particularly true for outdoor cats who face the harsh elements regularly, as they need additional energy to keep warm. But indoor cats might also show this behavior due to shorter daylight hours that are affecting their activity and metabolism. 

It's important for pet parents to monitor their cat's food intake and adjust it accordingly, ensuring they're meeting their nutritional needs without overfeeding. Providing a balanced diet that is high in protein and sufficient in calories is key during the colder months.

Your Cat’s Dry Winter Skin

During the chilly winter season, cats often suffer from dry skin, a common issue primarily caused by the lower humidity levels both outdoors and indoors due to heating systems. The dry air saps moisture from the skin, leading to flakiness, irritation, and sometimes increased shedding or dandruff. 

To combat this, there are several natural remedies you can try, including:

  • Humidity: Maintaining a humid environment inside the house can be beneficial. Using a humidifier adds moisture back into the air, creating a more skin-friendly atmosphere. 
  • Grooming: Regular grooming helps improve and maintain skin health, as it stimulates the skin's oil production and removes dead fur. 
  • Omegas: Including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in their diet, through either supplements or omega-rich foods, can improve skin health from the inside.

Add Probiotics

To ensure your cat stays healthy while enjoying the winter wonderland, adding probiotics, like Daily Cat, to their diet can offer several health benefits.

The colder months often cause changes in a cat's environment and routine, which can sometimes lead to stress and its associated digestive issues. 

Probiotics, known for their positive impact on gut health, can help maintain a balanced intestinal flora, promoting proper digestion and nutrient absorption. This is crucial during winter when cats may have higher energy needs to keep warm. 

A healthy gut microbiome, supported by probiotics, also strengthens the immune system, providing an extra line of defense against common winter illnesses. 

For cats that spend time outdoors, probiotics can also aid in resilience against environmental stressors and fluctuations in temperature. And the drier indoor air during winter, often due to heating systems, can affect a cat’s skin health. Probiotics can play a role in maintaining healthy skin by supporting a strong immune response and preventing skin irritations or infections. 

Don’t Forget the Cuddles

Now that we’ve covered everything, we want to remind youdon’t forget the cuddles! Many cats absolutely adore the warmth and comfort that comes from snuggling up with you. Your body heat acts like a cozy, reassuring blanket for them, making them feel secure and loved. 

These cuddle sessions are more than just pleasant; they can strengthen the bond between you and your cat, providing emotional comfort and reducing stress for both of you.

→Protect your cat’s gut health all year long with Daily Cat.← 

Read More:

Can Cats Get Hypothermia?

Frostbite in Cats

How to Build an Outdoor Shelter

Effect of a Multistrain Probiotic on Feline Gut Health

Cats Found to Eat More in the Winter

Photo by Bella Pisani on Unsplash

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