An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Indoor Cat’s Guide to Winter: Tips for Play, Tips for Digestive Matters, and Tips for Handling Your Fur

Hello Everyone,

It’s time for some tips on weathering the winter - 9 in total, one for each of our lives
- 3 tips about toys and playtime,
- 3 tips for deal with digestive issues, and
- 3 tips for handling your fur.

It all started yesterday as Themselves slept through the early hours of the morning. I watched the snow fall from my strategic position at the living room window. The white stuff was quite lovely BUT when I could finally rouse Herself to open the patio door, I took one look at the thick white carpet of wet flakes on the deck and decided they hunker down inside for the rest of the day.

No trips to my outdoor water dish! No vole TV through the slats of the compost box! Absolutely grounded!

From my very put-out attitude, Herself gathered that it was time to ready me for winter.

So here is what ‘we’ did.

 3 Playtime Tips

1. Bring Out the Active Toys and Tunnels: The winter toys have emerged from basement storage - lots of fishing poles with feather ends for more scheduled interactive play and feather wands for pouncing on beneath blankets and chasing under pillows. My tunnels are back in the main room so Herself can dangle a toy at one end and I can run to catch it, through the other.

2. New Small Toys: I love to play with mice and catnip pillows in the early hours of the morning. New ones are emerging from their catnip marinade. (To keep my interest up, Herself rotates my toys by putting some away – small ones in sealed plastic bags with some fresh catnip so that they smell heavenly when they emerge.)

3. Watch Those Birds: We enjoy watching birds but since I do go outside, Themselves do what they can to discourage the critters from coming into my yard (darn it). However some of my friends who stay indoors all the time really enjoy bird watching – especially if they can get their folks to hang up bird feeders or suet balls in the trees near their windows. It’s better than TV!

3 Tips on Digestive Matters

1. Keep Constipation at Bay: The colder the weather, the less able I am to go outdoors. And that means I tend to get sedentary. To keep my trim figure and keep constipation at bay, Herself becomes more liberal (and regular) with the hairball treats which I adore. She monitors my litter box faithfully – keeping an eye out for small, round balls of stool (rather than my cigar-shaped regulars) that indicate I’m in trouble. And she ups my water intake, by being that more generous in adding some of the liquid stuff to each of my servings of wet food. Of course, I still prefurr drinking from the pot of fresh water in the bedroom.

2. More Beauty Sessions: With the onset of the cold weather, my lush fur is even thicker. And so Herself treated me to a cat beauty parlour session with the Zoom Groom (my favourite grooming tool) which I like to try to nip while she is brushing me. I was so pleased that I rolled over from side to side to ensure the full treatment. My fur will be thicker and so the grooming treatments will be increased, in order to keep the dreaded hairballs at bay.

3. Grow Cat Grass! And speaking of digestive matters, I adore eating grass. Usually I have a special plot near my back gate. But in the winter, the grass dies back and besides it’s far too cold to walk all that way just for a chew. So Herself grows cat grass for me and makes sure I don’t run out, by starting new seeds while I’m munching on mature grass. She has found that the cat grass kit containers (the ones with the plastic containers in which you grow the seeds) are a bit of a pain to use – largely because every time I’d try to bite some grass, the darn container would move! Last year she fixed the tray to a crockery platter with a few strips of masking tap. It worked like a charm and was great at catching spills when she’d over water the grass. This year she bought me a heavy but squat pot in which to grow the stuff.

3 Tips to Help Your Fur Coat

1. Test Your Fur for Static: Any cat in my climate zone knows that static electricity is the bane of our existence in winter. Who wants to be petted when your fur crackles and you get a shock! If you start to crackle, it's time to take action. See below for how to prevent a shocking experience.

2. Turn on the Humidifier: Use a humidifier to put moisture into the air. It will do wonders for your skin, too. And don’t let your folks say that just because they have a humidifier on the furnace that all is well. The test is whether or not your fur gets static cling. If it does, the air is TOO dry – for you and for Themselves! Buy a small portable humidifier for the room you hang out in if need be.

3. Consider Coat Conditioner: To rid myself of dry skin, I get a SMALL dab of coat conditioner applied to my furs. The conditioner comes from the vet, so it is safe if I lick it off. I’m not a great fan of having my fur fussed with in this way. But sometimes a cat just has to put up with it.

Do you go outdoors during the winter? If so, watch for my next column on safety tips outdoors.

Purrs from inside the house (where it’s warm),