December in many parts of the world often means snow. Almost everyone who is an animal lover knows that most dogs love to play in the snow, but do you know that cats can enjoy the snow too? Many people believe that cats do not like any form of liquid, whether it be a bath, the rain, a swimming pool or even riding in a boat, but there are cats who do find these things fun to do.
My cat is one of them. It all started when I was shoveling the deck and she saw a chipmunk run from under the bird feeder and dive into the snow. In a moment of excitement, she leaped off the deck and dove into the snow chasing the chipmunk. I stopped my shoveling to see what would happen. It wasn’t long before her head popped up through the snow, the flakes covered her ears, face and nose. She shook herself and started to come back to the deck. But as she walked, tiny snow balls started to cascade down the sides of her path through the snow. She stopped suddenly and pounced on them with both front feet, like cats do.
I could see by her body language that she had discovered a new game and was enjoying it very much. She was oblivious to the fact that some of the snow was melting on her body, making her wet.
As the winter progressed and we got more snow, she decided that she liked to follow me as I did my outdoor chores and pounce on the little balls of snow that slid into my footprints. She also joined the dogs for their romps through the snow. It is quite a sight to see her walk in the paths that they make, ever alert for sliding snow with her tail above the snow, standing straight up with a slight hook at the tip.
The lesson I learned from this is that a pet of any kind may enjoy playing in circumstances that you would not expect them to like. In the case of my cat or a small dog, I am careful to keep a close eye on them because they could become disoriented in deep snow, become exhausted and not be able to get back to the house. In very windy conditions they may not hear you call, so it is also important to be able to walk to your pet while they play outside in the winter. I have taught my dogs to come to a sheepherding whistle which carries up to a mile.
It is also important to be sure that your pet does not become too cold. Dogs will play outside even though they are cold and wet, to the point of shivering, and not want to come indoors. Cats, however, seem to be more willing to come indoors when they get too cold.
All pets that go for a walk on paved surfaces may have problems with salt, so it is a good idea to wash their feet when they come indoors. A dog can become cold and wet even if you put a dog coat on them.
The bottom line is, let your pet have the opportunity to experience safe play, even if it is not the type of play that you think they would like. You never know.