We’re now officially entering colder weather, and while you’re cozy inside, remember that all of your outdoor companion animals, feral kitties and dogs, and even your chickens and other poultry need help to stay warm too. Sadly, over the last several winters we here at Four Legs and Fur have received too many reports of animals literally freezing to death.
Most regular dog houses and outdoor cat condos are not insulated, so they provide little in the way of shelter from biting winds, freezing rain or snow. It’s relatively inexpensive to fix this. Hermitage Lumber and farm stores sell bales of straw, which have an amazing insulating value if stacked against the walls and even over the ceiling of the house. And a warm four-inch layer of straw inside keeps your pet from being exposed to as much of the cold coming from the ground.
If that doesn’t suit you, and especially if you’re dealing with feral cats you want to try to help, here’s a great link for instructions on building a variety of feral cat cold and all-weather shelters: http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/feral-cat-health-shelter-cats-how-to-build-diy
Also keep in mind that it benefits outside animals to have a bit more flesh on them during the winter months than you would want during the summer. You can accomplish this by feeding them a bit extra and adding more fat to their rations. Doing so helps them generate more heat.
Lastly, please remember that your outside companions continue to need water (not ice) to keep them hydrated. If they have to resort to eating snow, it often results in their getting hypothermia. A stock tank heater, or a metal water bowl put up on a brick, with a heat lamp below it can provide water in the coldest of temps.
And if you’re wondering whether or not your animal HAS hypothermia, here’s how that is defined: There are three phases of hypothermia: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild hypothermia is classified as a body temp of 101.3°F-97.7°F, moderate is 97.7°F-93.2°F, and severe is a body temperature under 93.2°F.
Because animals have a higher normal temperature, they can suffer the results of hypothermia that much earlier. If you suspect your companion has become too cold, supplemental heat can be provided through the use of warm IV fluids, a fluid line warmer, insulation on the feet, circulating warm water blankets, and/or warm air circulation systems. If it seems severe, an immediate trip to the vet may be the only solution. Better to prevent the problem if you can.
- If you like male cats yowling around your house every 10 days, then don’t spay your female.
- If you love both sexes marking everything with their urine, inside and out, then keep your male and female intact.
- If you think having male dogs come from literally miles around to sniff out your female in heat is a good thing, then don’t spay her either.
- And if you think that killing over 141,000 animals in Missouri every single year is what you want to be part of, then keep your animals fertile and reproducing.
My grandmother drilled into my head the saying, “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” In the case of companion animals, the myth that allowing them to become pregnant because it’s “natural” and/or keeping a male dog intact because he’ll be happier are just that, and contribute to thousands of animals EACH DAY being put down because no one wants them.
Ask any mother you know if going through pregnancy was easy and blissful, and you’ll probably get an earful. Your female cat or dog doesn’t “enjoy” being pregnant. It strains her body, makes her more apt to have joint problems when older. One of my rescued dogs is a puppy mill survivor. She’s as sweet as can be, but you can see her pushed out hips and bowed legs from having litter after litter. I’m sure she would have preferred a different life.
And every time you place the pups or kitties your pet produced, you are contributing to over-population. Why? Because every free kitten you place with friends is one less home that can take an animal already in a shelter.
As for keeping a male dog intact, doing so just contributes to their roaming away from home in search of love, being much more aggressive (can we spell liability issues?) and having bone and cancer problems later on down the road.
Spaying or neutering your animals just before they come into their first heat (in the case of females), or around 6 months to a year (for males) allows their bones to grow at the correct rate, prevents many cancers, and gives you a calmer and happier pet.
Four Legs and Fur has a limited number of vouchers for low-cost spay and neutering of both dogs and cats. Apply now and do your best friend the best favor you can.
I was originally a feral cat that finally came down out of the trees and was adopted by a vet who takes WONDERFUL care of me!
Mama Shiloh was found with this little guy tagging behind, and he was so loving that he was immediately adopted by the person who found him.
Beautiful mama cat to Sabrina, Priscilla, and Smokey. Her owner simply has too many cats now to take care of all of them, and is hoping that you have the room and big heart to help her become all she could be. She’s spayed, calm and looking for someone to keep teaching her how wonderful being someone’s pet can be.
This is one of several feral cats adopted by a gentlemen who can now no longer feed all of them.
It was a hard choice to put Sabrina (The cat on the right) up for adoption, because she’s become quite tame. Born in August 2015, she has been spayed, and is hoping for a chance to be someone’s best friend. If you’ve ever wanted to adopt a cat that looks like a Ragdoll or Siamese, then Sabrina would be perfect for you!