Cats are not known to be lazy animals; they are very active and enjoy playing outdoors and walking around.
But if the weather is cold and it is snowing outside, do cats still enjoy doing it? Or is it really important to walk your pet cat outside in the winter?
You can take your cat out for a walk in this cold weather, but you need to supervise your cat and keep a check on how much time your cat is spending outside.
Walking in the snow may seem very pretty, and your cat may be fascinated too if it is seeing snow for the first time, but you need to watch over your cat and also think about its safety.
- Cats can walk in the snow, but it may not be the most comfortable or safe activity for them.
- Snow is generally not harmful to cat paws, but if it forms ice balls or gets mixed with salt or other ice melt products, it can cause irritation or gastrointestinal upset.
- Cats may enjoy playing in the snow for a short period of time, but it is important to bring them inside or away from the snow once they are done.
- If you do take your cat on a winter road trip, it is important to have permission from your veterinarian and to take appropriate precautions to keep your cat safe and comfortable.
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Can Cats Walk In Snow?
Yes, cats can walk in the snow, but that does not mean you take your cat out for long walks in the snow.
Cats are not a fan of water, and when the snow melts, it leaves their paws wet, which would make them uncomfortable and squirmish.
Also, sometimes snow gets stuck in their fur near their paws or other parts of their body which would later melt and leave them wet. This may result in hypothermia or frostbite in your cats.
So it is not a matter of whether they can or cannot; it’s about their safety.
Many cats may even feel comfortable in snow but most avoid it and dislike going in the snow. Initially, they may seem enthusiastic about it but soon you can notice signs of distress or dislike.
It is generally recommended to keep your pets indoors and not risk them by bringing them outside in such weather conditions.
Is Snow Bad For Cat Paws?
Snow, in general, is not harmful to cat paws but if it forms ice balls and gets stuck in the cat’s paws it could be very painful and cause frostbite.
If your cat gets frostbite you may observe the following symptoms: weak pulse, dilated pupils, decreased heart rate, extreme shivering, pale or blue mucous membranes, body temperature below 95 degrees, stupor, and unconsciousness.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat you should immediately take it to the vet.
It is a common practice for people to put salt on snow to melt it and clear pathways and roads. Taking your cat out in the snow for a walk could get salt in their paws which is actually harmful.
“Salt and other ice melt products can irritate paws and, if licked off of the feet or fur and ingested, can cause gastrointestinal upset and irritate the mouth,” says UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) clinical instructor Calico Schmidt.UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) clinical instructor Calico Schmidt.
Snow in general is not hazardous for cats, it’s other external factors like ice balls, the risk of hypothermia, or ingestion of foreign substances that could be fatal for your cat.
Must Read: How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside?
Factors to Consider when Walking Your Cat in Winter/Snow
|Temperature||Extremely cold or freezing temperatures can be dangerous for cats, as they are prone to frostbite and other cold-related injuries. Consider the weather forecast and take appropriate precautions to protect your cat’s paws, ears, and tail.|
|Snow and Ice||Snow and ice can be slippery and hazardous for cats, especially if they have long or thick fur. Consider using a harness and leash to keep your cat close and secure, and be mindful of any potential hazards, such as roads or other animals.|
|Time of Day||The best time to walk your cat in winter/snow may be during the warmer hours of the day, when the sun is out and the temperature is higher. Avoid walking your cat during the coldest times of the day, such as an early morning or late evening.|
|Breed||Some breeds of cats, such as Persians and Siamese, may be more sensitive to cold temperatures due to their longer fur or thin coats. Consider your cat’s breed and take appropriate precautions to protect them from the elements.|
|Health||Cats with certain health conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, may be more sensitive to cold temperatures and may benefit from extra warmth. Consult with your veterinarian before walking your cat in winter/snow, especially if they have any pre-existing health conditions.|
Should I Let My Cat Play In Snow?
Yes, you can let your cat play in the snow for a limited amount of time. You need to bring your cat inside or away from the snow.
Cats are fascinated by snow and like to play in it initially, but they seemingly get uncomfortable in the snow due to the cold. They can have ice balls in their paws, which could hurt them and make them uncomfortable.
You should try to avoid going out in the snow with your cat and try to distract it with other things. But if you have to go out, you should get your cat a sweater or any other winter apparel. This would provide a little protection against the cold.
After your cat is done playing, bring your cat inside and wipe their paws to remove any leftover snow. If there is snow around their paws or in their fur, it would later melt and make them cold. This could cause a lowering of body temperature, or hypothermia.
Interesting Read: Do Cats Get Cold In The Winter?
Do Cats’ Paws Get Cold In The Snow?
Yes, cats’ paws can get cold in the snow. Their paws are sensitive and susceptible to snow getting stuck in them. The curve between their legs and paws is a very sensitive area, as even after coming out of the snow, the snow may get stuck there.
Their paws can become extremely cold due to the stuck snow. Cats can get frostbite from being out in the snow for too long. If the frostbite affects the cat severely, they can lose a limb or even their lives.
With frostbite, they are also threatened by the chances of catching hypothermia.
How Do I Protect My Cat’s Paws In The Snow?
You can protect your cat’s paws in the snow by covering them in some sort of protective covers, like booties or socks made for cats. The market is full of such products that can be used to protect your cat’s paws.
The Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology suggests that you “have your pet wear booties on walks and towel dry them as soon as they come inside to make sure there is no snow stuck to them.”
Along with keeping them warm from the snow, these things protect cats from any harmful substance that is concealed in the snow. They can accidentally inhale or ingest any harmful substances that could be toxic to them.
According to UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) clinical instructor Calico Schmidt, “
Salt and other ice melt products can irritate paws and, if licked off of the feet or fur and ingested, can cause gastrointestinal upset and irritate the mouth.”
Pros and Cons of Walking Your Cat in Winter/Snow
|Provides exercise and mental stimulation||Extreme cold or freezing temperatures can be dangerous for cats|
|Opportunity to explore new environments||Snow and ice can be slippery and hazardous for cats|
|Bonding time with your cat||Time of day and breed may impact your cat’s sensitivity to cold temperatures|
|May help prevent behavioral issues||Certain health conditions may make your cat more sensitive to cold temperatures|
What About Winter Road Trips For Cats?
You can do a winter road trip with your cat if you have the permission of your vet and all the necessary precautions and essential things are at your disposal
Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, a veterinarian and clinical coordinator for the Community Practice group at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, says,
“It is always a good idea to have your pet examined by a veterinarian before leaving. Your veterinarian can help determine whether your pet is free of disease and healthy enough for travel.
Whether you are traveling by car or plane, a health certificate signed by a veterinarian is recommended.”Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, a veterinarian and clinical coordinator
If you plan a road trip in winter with your pets, you should also keep these things in mind:
- Pack enough food and water for your pet to last throughout the trip. It is even recommended to take more than required just in case
- If your pet is under medication or has any allergies make sure to have all the required products which could be needed during an emergency.
- Pack a familiar blanket to keep your cat warm and make it feel safe and comfortable,
- Pack a few favorite toys to keep your cat occupied during the trip.
- Use sweaters when required. Put your cat in a sweater if the weather is too cold.
- You could use a heating pad as a blanket. It would be a better option as cats sometimes are not comfortable with all fabrics and would not use the blanket if it does not like the feel of it.
Cars in colder places are equipped with systems to warm the vehicle, so if you need to go on a road trip with your cat, the cat wouldn’t be uncomfortable if you have a good car and you take the necessary precautions.
Interesting Read: Do Cats Get A Winter Coat?
Precautions To Be Taken While Taking Your Cat For A Walk In Winter
If you decide to take your cat out for a walk in the winter take these precautions to avoid your pet cat getting hypothermia or a frostbite
- Do not let the cat play in the snow for much time as their paws may get snow on them which could later be the reason for getting frostbite.
- After coming back make sure to wipe their toes and fur to remove any leftover snow. This snow would melt later and cause discomfort to your pet cat. This would also remove any other substances like salts from their paws which could be harmful to them.
- If it is too cold outside, put a sweater on your cat. This would provide better protection against the cold.
- Trim the hair around their paw pads. This would prevent snow from getting stuck in there and forming ice balls.
- You can use paw balm on their paws before a walk and then after returning, you can wipe it off. After wiping reapply the balm to soothe any irritation and also to prevent them from drying out
- Keep your cats away from the sidewalk because people use many products to melt snow which could affect your cat’s paws and also could be dangerous if ingested.
Tips for Walking Your Cat in Winter/Snow
|Dress appropriately||Dress in layers and wear warm, waterproof clothing to protect yourself from the elements.|
|Protect your cat’s paws||Consider using booties or wax to protect your cat’s paws from the cold and prevent frostbite.|
|Use a harness and leash||A harness and leash can help keep your cat close and secure while walking in winter/snow.|
|Be mindful of potential hazards||Watch for potential hazards, such as roads or other animals, and take appropriate precautions to keep your cat safe.|
|Consult with your veterinarian||If you have any concerns about walking your cat in winter/snow, consult with your veterinarian for guidance and advice.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Is walking necessary in winter?
Walking is just a form of exercise for cats. If you find a better alternative to the same you can totally avoid taking walks outside in the chilly weather.
Do cats need shoes in the snow?
You can use fancy products like shoes for cat paws if you take your cat in the snow. But if you cannot afford these things, it is not unsafe to take your cats barefoot in the snow unless you make sure they are not too cold and their feet are protected.
What form of exercise other than walking could you do for your pet cat?
Instead of walking around in the cold weather, you can play with your cat inside the house. Running around the house with them would serve as a good alternative to walking in the snow. You can play little games like hide and seek with their treats around the house.
The white expanse of snow falling around is sure a very picturesque view, and it is amazing to play in the snow. Initially, your pet cat may also agree with you, but later it grows wary of the snow.
Snow sometimes gets stuck in between the paws and forms ice balls. These could be very hurtful for your cat. Later, when the snow that is stuck in their paws melts, it leaves them wet and cold and could cause frostbite.
So when you take your cat out for a walk, make sure you wipe their paws after the walk to remove any snow or other substances like salt or chemical deicers. People use salt or chemical deicers to melt snow, which could get stuck in your cat’s paw while taking a walk in the snow.
Going outside in such weather is very risky, and one should avoid taking their cat outside unnecessarily. If you were the pet parent, would you take your cat out in the snow or not?
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