Written by Ioana Busuioc, December 2018
As the weather continues to get colder and colder, we have to consider that not all animals have a home with a warm bed to sleep in this winter. It is our job to make sure that when the temperature drops we remain vigilant with the outdoor animal population because just like humans, they too can get frostbite, suffer from hypothermia, and even die of extreme cold.
Some animals may be used to the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean they are equipped for some of the freezing temperature drops Alberta experiences in the wintertime. Kitten Lady on YouTube has an amazing tutorial on how to build winter shelters for cats that I highly recommend watching. These are quick and easy to make, and can provide shelter from the cold to a cat in need. All it takes is a medium sized Rubbermaid container with straw for insulation and warmth and a small opening size; the smaller the size, the better, as it will help retain an animal’s body heat. Towels and blankets can get wet and freeze, and thus they are not recommended. Keeping food and water available on a set schedule (morning and night) will also prevent the animal wandering out for sustenance, thus defeating the purpose of the shelter. Though there are not typically many feral or outdoor cats in the suburbs or inner city areas in the city, Alberta has many small communities spread out in the province, many of which may not have easy accessibility to shelters or organizations that can readily come pick up an animal. Winter shelters are crucial to the survival of feral and stray cats living in these freezing conditions. Ideally if someone sees an animal out in the cold, it is best to call it in and notify authorities, but if the animal cannot be recuperated, a winter shelter will at least protect it from the cold.
Something else to be aware of is antifreeze. Antifreeze is poisonous to animals, and though it is very common to in the wintertime, along with other ice-melting chemicals it can pose a serious threat to your pet’s safety. Pet-safe antifreeze is available for purchase, and for dogs in particular, it is important to wipe their paws after walking them outside or investing in winter boots to avoid certain chemicals burning your beloved pooch’s pads.
Additionally, cats in particular can seek out the warmth and protection of car hoods. A light slap to the hood or simply a quick look around can avoid any surprises for both you and the cold animal trying to warm itself up.
It only takes a moment of your time to check your surroundings and ensure no animal is left behind in the cold this winter. A few minutes of your day could make the difference for their entire lives!
Thank you kindly for reading, I hope this was helpful and informative!
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