Banging on your car’s bonnet might seem like a strange way to start your day, but as Storm Barra is due to hit the UK and the government warns that the UK should prepare for more extreme weather, it could save an animal’s life.

Despite their fur coats, dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals – especially puppies and kittens – quickly suffer from exposure and deadly frostbite.

Cats will often take refuge from bad weather under car bonnets, attracted by the warmth, and can become badly injured or be killed when the engine starts. Always bang loudly on the bonnet first, as even if your companion animals are safe indoors as they should be, someone else’s – or a stray – might not be. Thunder and lightning terrifies many animals, leaving them disorientated and lost.

If the weather eases and allows for a short walk, ensure short-haired animals are wearing a warm coat and always wipe any snow off animals’ paws, as it can contain salt and other chemicals which will make them sick if ingested. Look out for strays, and taken them indoors while you try to find their guardians or to an animal shelter. Any vet can check for free if an animal is microchipped.

Offer food and water and call the RSPCA for help if an animal can’t be approached. For more information on keeping animals safe during the winter, please visit

Natalie Tambini

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)