Cold weather concerns for people and pets

It is Sunday, February 1, and I am cuddled up in my new bedroom in my very old and drafty 100+ year old city house, trying to not freeze to death. I am snuggled under my quilts with my laptop, my warm Border Collie, a parrot and an under-the-weather house chicken in a basket near me, all of us loving the low light and the glow of my candles, which seem to be imaginatively lighting the room with spare heat.

NPR is on in the background, and as I was working on my computer and listening to the radio, I heard a local cut in advising people to check in on any elderly and shut in friends and relatives and to make sure that neighbours were all safe from the cold. Additionally, they advised that all the homeless shelters have been opened today to help with the onslaught of the frigidly cold weather and homeless humans who are out exposed to the elements.

To broaden the area of enlightened concern, please also think of animals outside, vulnerable to the cold temps.

I live in the middle of a long-term, sustained feral cat colony; I know that my new yard has been a feeding station but there are no shelters built here, thankfully, as those cats pose a direct threat to my miniature therapy house pet chickens, who can now only venture outside under strict surveillance.

But these alley cats, as well as neighbour or friends’ dogs who are outdoor and/or outdoor chained animals (which, fortunately, is now illegal in many metro areas) are also at risk, as are wild animals and wild birds.

Straw house enclosures can provide much comfort to these animals and help augment their fluffy winter fur or feathers, as can heated or warm drinking water, and slurries or stews warmed and made into outdoor delivery meals. Suet for birds is a high fat, highly palatable meal supplement that you can hang from your patio or tree and attract wild birds to your yard for extra, heat producing supplemental intake.

If you find a feral or wild animal in distress, please call the Humane Society of the United States, ph: 314-647-8800, or the Missouri Wildlife Rescue Center.

Please always think and act compassionately for your fellow humans and creatures – Dorene in St. Louis, animal behaviour consultant.

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