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If you live in a cold weather climate, you know the feeling of excitement (laced with possible dread) over the fact that winter is coming. It seems there is so much to do, but make sure you’ve made plans for your kitties, too, whether they’re indoor, outdoor, or a combination of both.

My household cats don’t go outside. We live in the woods and it’s safer to keep the cats in the house. But I know that many readers care for cats indoors and out; tame, feral, or free-roaming.

Here are some things I’ve thought about to prepare cats for winter. 

Here’s Zorro outside, before he was trapped, neutered, and incorporated into our family. I think he wanted to come in, even though I couldn’t get close to him.

Indoor kitties

Indoor kitties are lucky in a place with a harsh environment. My cats have been inside for so long that they really don’t seem to miss it outside at all, even Zorro, who was an outdoor cat only several months ago. But there are still things you can do to make sure your indoor kitties are ready for cold times.

  • Make sure your entrances and exits are secure and kitty-proof. You don’t want your indoor cat slipping out in the dead of winter. I have a friend who had a loose screen in her window that she was unaware of, and her rescued cat escaped. They were never able to find him.
  • Make sure your heat is dependable. Indoor kitties have it pretty good, but they appreciate being warm, too. If you have to travel, make sure that you have warm places for the cats to snuggle in case the heat does go out (sleeping bags, blankets, cat beds, etc.).
  • Stock up on cat food, in case the weather is so bad that you can’t go out to get any. Where we live now, ice storms are a pretty regular occurrence in the winter. Sure, you can order food online, but what if no one is delivering because the roads are terrible? Plan ahead.

Kieran (Turkish Van on the left) was rescued on a very cold day. His paws and the tip of one ear were frostbitten, and he was very very thin.

Outdoor cats

I always worry about these guys in the winter, particularly when they show up and start living in our garage. I've had a few feral cats show up who didn't make it, even though I fed them and tried to keep them safe. And I've had some success, too. Here is what I've done to try and keep these cats safe in the winter.

  • Provide shelter. Outdoor cats can make it over the winter if they have food, water, and shelter from the elements. I've been amazed at some of the temperatures these cats have lived through, provided they can get in from the wind. Of course, this also depends on the hardiness and the size of the cat. I had a whole (terrible) winter to observe Zorro. He survived in a large, unheated garage, but he was smart enough to go to the back, out of the wind, and he is a stocky, long-haired cat. I watched him sunbathe in minus 18 temperatures. We gave him a sled with straw in it so that he could lay in the sun and not get frostbite. He was always smart enough to go inside when the sun went away or if the wind picked up.
  • Provide a bed and or feral cat shelter. Make your feral cat shelters now, while you still have time and before the cold hits. Get straw while it's available. A smart Catster commenter pointed out that straw is better than material in the bottom of feral shelters, since cats will drag snow into the shelters with their feet and it will freeze to cloth. If your cat won't use the feral shelter (Zorro didn't), improvise another bed. We put straw in a large rubber tub. He seemed to prefer this setup.
  • Provide food and water. Warm water is particularly important and will help these cats keep warm. Some folks use those outdoor-pet water-warmers.
  • TNR when you're able. If you are able to live trap and successfully TNR the outdoor cat, you've done a great favor to future generations of kittens that would have to struggle in these harsh elements.

Karma showed up in November, outside and quite frightened of the increasing wind and cold. We were eventually able to tempt her inside and she was tame and friendly.

Indoor/outdoor cats

All of the above applies to cats who freely go inside and out. If you have such cats, consider keeping them exclusively inside during the winter. There are many risks they run outside in the wintertime -- frostbitten paws and ears, predation, seeking out the underside of cars as a source of warmth (danger!), and antifreeze exposure, to name a few. If your cats must go in and out, make sure that they are always able to get in, whether that means a working cat door, or your awareness and attention.

How do you provide for your cats in cold climates? What have I missed here? Share your experience in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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    Daily GIFs: October 20, 2014

    Posted October 20th, 2014 by admin

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    Getting through the day can be tough, but you know what makes it easier? Adorable GIFs. Check out these furry mini-flicks floating around the Internet. It’s probably the cutest way to waste time and wait for the weekend.

    1. “Ughhhh, I hate Mondays!”

    2. “Thanks. You know how much I enjoy a firm pillow.”

    3. Om nom nom.

    4. “For me? Thanks. Bye!”

    5. It’s all in the hooves.


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      10 Cool Facts About Basset Hounds

      Posted October 19th, 2014 by admin

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        The most complicated thing I’ve trained my cats to do is come when I shake the bag of treats, so I’m always impressed when kitties can perform on command — even if it’s something as simple as coming when called or actually understanding the word “NO.”

        The cats in these videos have mastered the simple stuff and developed some pretty sweet skills that my cats would envy — if they were awake right now, that is. I’m pretty sure my cats can sleep on command. That’s a thing, right?

        1. A friendly contest

        To start us off, here’s a friendly contest between Kaiser the Bengal cat and Nana the Border Collie. The competitive critters roll over, spin in circles, ride a skateboard, and balance on boxes, all on command. I’m going to call this one a tie — with a possible edge going to Kaiser due to the fact that watching the dog walk nonchalantly on her front paws looks straight out of a horror movie. What do you think?

        2. Korean Cat Circus

        While visiting South Korea, the sarcastic travel blogger narrating this video stumbled upon a cat circus, where, he says, “The cats are as well-trained as the people.” After watching the cats walk tightropes, balance on balls, and jump through hoops, he says what we’re all thinking: “What are they feeding these cats, sardines laced with cocaine?” I’d say that’s as good a guess as any.

        3. Dress for success

        This ridiculously fluffy Himalayan kitten sits, shakes, and balances on her hind legs on command — all while wearing an insanely adorable pink dress. This seems too cute to be real. 

        4. Skater boy

        Didga the kitty loves to ride his skateboard around the beautiful beach town of Coolangatta, Australia — and he looks good doing it. The fearless feline tackles obstacles with flair — even when that hurdle happens to be a large Rottweiler dog.

        5. Anything for treats

        I’m not sure who wins here: The human for having the knowledge, patience, and dedication necessary to train a cat, or the kitty for successfully fooling the human into thinking he’s been trained. Because let’s face it: That cat would do anything for treats.

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        Learn more about your cat with Catster:

        About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic

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          UN to Double Biodiversity Aid for Developing Counties

          Posted October 18th, 2014 by admin

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          PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – A UN conference on preserving the earth’s dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

          The rain forest canopy in the south coast region of Bioko Island.

          Credit: Getty Creative

          The funding target had already been agreed in principle at the last Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Hyderabad, India, in 2012, but there had been disagreement on how to calculate the increase.

          The gathering in Pyeongchang, South Korea, agreed to use average annual biodiversity funding for the years 2006-2010 as a baseline to be doubled by 2015, and then maintained through 2020.

          Governments also agreed to increase domestic financing for biodiversity projects.

          The funding boost is seen as crucial for meeting targets set in 2010 to arrest the tide of biodiversity loss by 2020.

          In its Global Biodiversity Outlook issued at the start of the conference in Pyeongchang, the CBD made it clear that the world was not on track to meet the so-called “Aichi Targets” — which include halving habitat loss, reducing pollution and overfishing, and putting a brake on species extinction.

          “Parties have listened to the evidence, and have responded by committing themselves to redoubling their efforts … including the financial resources needed to make this a reality,” CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias said Friday.

          “Their commitments show the world that biodiversity is a solution to the challenges of sustainable development and will be a central part of any discussions for the post-2015 development agenda,” he said in a statement.

          In its Outlook report, the CBD had warned that global rates of deforestation were still “alarmingly high” despite a slowdown in the depletion of the Brazilian Amazon and gains in forest coverage in Vietnam and China.

          Habitats of all types, including forests, grasslands, wetlands and river systems, continue to be fragmented and degraded.

          In one striking example of long-term degradation, the report cited a 20 percent reduction since 1980 in the populations of wild birds specialising in habitats such as grasslands and forests in North America and Europe.

          The executive director of the UN Environment Programme Achim Steiner said Friday that the Pyeongchang conference had underlined the impact of continued biodiversity loss on food and water security, as well as livelihoods and disaster risk reduction.

          The cost of inaction to halt biodiversity decline would give rise to increasing and cumulative economic annual losses of around $14 trillion by 2050, Steiner said.

          “The decisions made in Pyeongchang will leapfrog efforts to achieve the Aichi targets and put biodiversity on a stronger footing for decades to come,” he added.

          The most recent update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species in July said a quarter of mammals, over a tenth of birds, and 41 percent of amphibians are at risk of extinction.

          And last month, the green group WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report highlighted a 52 percent decline in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish overall from 1970 to 2010.

          It said humans were consuming resources at a rate that would require 1.5 Earths to sustain — gobbling up animal, plant and other resources at a faster rate than nature can replenish them.

          MORE ON PAWNATION: Spanish Town Deploys Dog Poo Police

           

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            10 Cool Facts About Samoyeds

            Posted October 12th, 2014 by admin

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