Your Cat’s Winter Coat
After a mild start to the winter, it has been especially cold here in Maryland for the last few weeks. During this time, you might have noticed your cat’s coat becoming thicker and heavier. This is not an accident. Cats, much like humans and other creatures, have internal mechanisms to help them adapt to environmental changes. One of these changes is that your cat’s coat will become thicker in the winter.
Most of the volume of their coat comes by way of the undercoat. The hairs of the undercoat are generally shorter, finer, and softer than the rest of the cat’s fur. These hairs grow in during the winter to increase surface area around your cat, which in turn helps keep in your cat’s natural body heat and assists with thermoregulation.
Cat’s Pre-Winter Molting
Unfortunately for us, the cat owners, this new fluffy undercoat doesn’t just grow in. In order for the winter coat to come in, the summer coat has to get out of the way. And that means molting. This is an important time for you to be attentive to your cat’s needs when it comes to grooming. Brushing your cat will go a long way not only with the bonding aspect of your relationship, but also with removing the hair your cat sheds.
If you don’t brush?
Not brushing means your cat will have to groom itself more regularly and probably with less efficacy. It also means more hair balls, more cat hairs in your home, and the potential for your cat’s skin to become irritated. Just like our skin, the cat’s skin needs to breath or oils and dirt will build up, leading to rashes, irritation, or other sin issues. Brushing is the best way to remove dead skin and fur and keeps your cats skin health in the winter.
Your Cat Adjusting to the Winter
Have an “open-door” policy with your cat
Sure, your cat’s coat will keep it warmer, but your cat will still need to get used to the cold, and potentially snow, and build its confidence. If your cat does venture outside, make sure it has free and easy access to the indoors. Your cat needs to feel confident that it can stay outside as long as it feels comfortable and return to the warm interior of your home on its own schedule.
Your cat is now suddenly a homebody?
You may notice your cat spending less time outside during the cold months. This isn’t just because it is cold, but also because there is less for it to do. Cats are natural hunters, and in the winter, there is less for it to “hunt”. When your cat becomes bored outside, it will likely come in to say hi and recharge.
Feed your cat more in the winter
Increase the amount of food you give your cat by 15% during the winter. Your kitty is putting a lot of energy into growing its winter coat and it is likely more active when it is cold. More energy out means more energy in, and that means more food. The proof is in the pudding, or cat food in this case,
But beware, what your cat has gained in the winter must be lost come summer. When molting begins anew, you will know it. While one would think the growth of a thicker coat and the molting are triggered by temperature, they are actually triggered by day/night cycles much like trees losing their leaves. And if you’ve noticed, the days are getting longer – it is starting to get lighter earlier and darker later, so watch out for that molt.
If you have specific questions about your cat’s winter coat or its molting, call Catonsville Cat Clinic. We are adept in all things cats and would love to talk to you about yours.