13 Fogg Farm Road
White River Junction VT 05001
Located 1 Mile South of King Arthur Flour on Route 5
As you get home from work, a swirl of cold winter air announces your arrival, waking your feline housemate. She does not share your motivation to leave the warm indoor comforts. Being a cat, she almost imperceptibly acknowledges your return, takes a deep breath and resumes her nap snuggled deeply in your favorite sweater.
Even for cats who normally savor the adventure of being outdoors, icy ground and single digit temperatures generally dissuade all but the most avid feline hunters. Being indoors is warm and cozy. Cats adapt to winter. They create pastimes, such as puppeteering you the owner (who owns whom?) to present the "right" food. "Hm. Tuna, chicken, salmon, rabbit or liver?" "Shredded patÃ© on dry kibble, please." Working up an appetite climbing screens, mauling a pillow, cruising the kitchen counter for crumbs, and attacking your slippers as you wander the kitchen: it's all in the hunt.
Cats are playful, intelligent, social creatures who thrive on mental and physical stimulation. These needs require attention, whether the Winter finds kitty temporarily or permanently inside. Food dispensing toys are great, either do-it-yourself -like a plastic container inside plastic container, each with holes- or purchased from West Lebanon Supply. Kibble designed to minimize dental plaque is a great filler for these games. Look for Tartar Shield treats, Purina DM, Hills T/D or Royal Canin dental prescription kibble. Another favorite toy is the Panic Mouse, a battery operated chase/hunt game. Or place a ping pong ball in an empty bathtub -more entertaining for you or the cat, who knows. Cats love to hunt: feed this desire by allowing her to hunt for food hidden in random nooks of your house.
If your cat is enjoying outdoor time during the Winter days (and why not?), you should bring her inside by nightfall. Great Horned Owls, coyotes, foxes, fishers, and even malicious people and automobiles pose nighttime threats. Given a choice, foxes are less likely to chase a nimble rabbit than to nab a docile and well-fed house cat: more calories for less energy. Beyond being odiferous, skunks, along with raccoons, bats and foxes may also carry the rabies virus. These potential traumas, plus poisons such as antifreeze, frostbite, and infectious disease are very real concerns for cats who spend the night outside.
In addition to fun activities and shelter from the cold and predators, please feed kitty well. Cats thrive on canned food, though (being cats!) some felines insist on only eating crunchy kibble. Cats are true carnivores; the optimal diet is a commercial cat food high in protein and moisture. Less good are colorful food and treats made from corn meal and red dye number 30. . . Though if you add green 55 and yellow 28, you may have Fruit Loops which my kids think are yummy! Winter is a less active time, so be vigilant about overfeeding. Your veterinarian and local feed store are both happy to help, and would gladly provide advice.
Whether your cat found you on a walk, at the Humane Society, through a friend, or was flown in from Russia --yes, this happens-- he needs a bit of special care during these Winter months. Even in Winter watch for fleas; ours is on preventative year-round. Test annually for intestinal parasites, consult your vet to establish the best vaccination schedule, and examine kitty's mouth for inflammation and bad breath: cats are prone to dental disease.
Oh yes, and give them lots of love! Cats return it in spades.
Â· Keep kitty active during indoor Winter months
Â· Moderate feeding if your cat is less active
Â· Keep cats indoors at night
Â· Fleas are a problem year-round, use a good preventative
Â· Canned foods and tartar-preventing treats are great for nutrition, kidney health, and dental health, areas for vigilance in all cats
For information on foraging toys, please visit http://www.pawswhiskersandclaws.com/pwc%20foraging.pdf.
To make your own foraging toy, courtesy of eHow.com:
1. Find a sturdy plastic container with a lid. Small soda bottles and yogurt containers work great because they are big enough to hold quite a few kibbles of food, but small enough for your cat to move around.
1. Use a clear container or surround the foraging toy with catnip if your cat seems disinterested or confused about the forager.