How to help cats, livestock and birds cope with the cold

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LOS ANGELES (AP) — All kinds of animal can face problems from a wicked winter that's unleashing frigid temperatures and heaps of snow from the Rocky Mountains to the Northeast.

While the weather has driven a late-season surge in sales of dog boots, which protects paws from salt and ice, animals with hooves and wings don't have the same products to combat the cold.

Sanctuaries and shelters offer tips for helping cats, birds and livestock as winter persists



If your pet cat spends time inside and out, bring it indoors, said Nancy Peterson, cat programs manager for the Humane Society of the United States. Feral cats are hardier than indoor cats, but with record-breaking and cold, many of them won't make it without a little help. Peterson suggests helping local animal care centers build straw shelters and provide dry food and water for the cats.



The biggest problem for large cattle is slipping on ice, said Susie Coston, national shelter director for Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. She has a team of experts to remove snow at the 175-acre sanctuary with more than 400 animals.

"A big male Holstein is tall and weighs 3,000 pounds. If he falls, he can break his back or end up with leg issues that can't be repaired," she said.

Otherwise, cattle grow thick coats in the winter and are very resilient to the cold.



They also grow winter coats to keep them warm, but if they get wet from riding or weather, they get dried off as soon as they get back to the barn.



Pigs and goats should be kept inside the barn, and a jacket can keep them even more comfortable, Coston said. Sheep grow a coat good for snow unless they are pregnant or old.

Pigs' hooves can also slip on ice, but they "are hedonistic and will choose not to go outside unless they have to," Coston said. Only two things will move them — food or a bathroom break.

Goats will convey they that won't go outside in winter by refusing to move, Coston said.



Chickens, turkeys and ducks can get frostbite and lose their toes, so the Farm Sanctuary keeps them indoors if it gets below 10 degrees.

"The industrial breeds are all very large but don't have very good circulation. They are not designed to live on ice or snow," Coston said.