Your barn cats may not come to your home, but they are in your heart and part of your family. When the temperatures drop, you’ll want to make sure these kittens have everything they need. Often times, due to the way cats have developed, they need a little more TLC in winter.
“Cats evolved from ancestors living in the desert,” said Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who is now a member of the Cat Life Advisory Board. “You need a little more input from us if you want to live in an area that is not air-conditioned. They are simply not behaviorally, anatomically, or physiologically adapted to very cold temperatures. “
If your barn has air conditioning, you don’t need much more than a house cat. But if your barn has a tendency to submerge below 40 degrees, there are a few things you should have in store. The good news is, your barn cats will have to get through the winter. It doesn’t take much, just a few extra basics. Coates provided a checklist of the things your barn cat will need this winter.
Get barn cats insulated water bowls
Cats have low thirst drive, but need to stay hydrated in cooler temperatures to ward off urinary and kidney problems. Barn cats often get water from their prey, but when they eat dry food, Coates says they need to drink more water than they take for granted.
But when the weather is colder, the water will be cooler and may not be as appealing to a barn cat. Keep the water above 40 to 45 degrees.
“A heated bowl of water would be a great addition,” says Dr. Coates.
Help your barn cats survive the winter with high-protein food
Barn cats are known to eat rodents (a win for people who want to keep rodent populations down in their barns). In winter, their natural prey can crouch more. And when they hunt, they burn more calories in the cold, says Dr. Coates.
“You need more calories in your diet,” she says. “Fat is the highest calorie ingredient in cat food, but they are also high in protein.”
Make sure you leave out a lot of this food for them to enjoy.
Make sure your barn cats are currently vaccinated
Preventive care does not hibernate in the winter months.
“[Barn cats’] The need for vaccines and parasite prevention is higher than that of a cat who lives only indoors, ”says Dr. Coates.
It makes sense: domestic cats are out in the elements and are more likely to come into contact with a parasite or animal with a potentially fatal disease like rabies. Make sure you are up to date on vaccines and monthly preventative measures.
Featured image: Gaussian_Blur / Getty Images
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