Your cat might have a nice, thick winter coat, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the chill of plummeting winter temperatures. In fact, it might surprise you to learn that your feline friend might feel the chilly weather just as much as you can… and hate it just as much!
If you’re a cat parent, here’s the stuff you REALLY need to know about taking care of your cherished companion during winter. Think of it as our exclusive winter care edition article for the cat parents!
- Do Cats Get Cold in Winter?
- What Temperature Do Cats Get Cold?
- How Do I Know if My Cat is Cold?
- Do I Need to Worry About Hypothermia in Cats?
- Cat Hypothermia Symptoms
- Frostbite in Cats: What to Look Out For
- Do Cats Like Snow?
- How to Keep a Cat Warm Outside
- How to Make Sure Your Cat is Warm Inside
Do Cats Get Cold in Winter?
Yes, cats do get cold, and most of them don’t like the cold temperature all that much.
If YOU think it’s cold, your cat will probably think it’s cold, too. The normal body temperature range for a human is 97.9 to 99° Fahrenheit. According to research, a cat’s normal body temperature range is 99 to 102.5° Fahrenheit. The two are remarkably similar, so you can assume a cat feels the same way that you do: hot when it’s hot, and cold when it’s cold.
What Temperature Do Cats Get Cold?
Cats are smart, savvy creatures that will do what they need to do to find shelter from freezing cold temperatures, but it is still possible for the temperature to drop too low to safely let your furry friend out in it.
If the temperature dips below 45° Fahrenheit, it is too cold for your cat to go outside.
Cats with short hair tend to feel the cold more than cats with long hair. (I bet the Sphynx cat detests this very British winter!)
How Do I Know if My Cat is Cold?
Communication between humans and pets can be difficult. It’s not as if your cat can come to you and tell you, in a verbal way, that they are cold and need the heating to be turned on/up. They will display certain signs, though.
If your cat keeps curling up in a tiny, warm space, it might be cold in your house. If your cats keep curling up together, tightly packed, they might be trying to preserve heat. When cats sleep as close to radiators as they can get, they’re telling you that they are cold and want warmth. Some cats are even aggressive when the conditions are suitable, such as it is too cold.
You know your cat better than anyone else, and you’ll know when something isn’t right – like when the temperature is too low.
Do I Need to Worry About Hypothermia in Cats?
Yes, you do!
If you live in a place where the temperature dips to below 45° Fahrenheit (~7°C), hypothermia is a very real threat. The very real threat turns into a noticeably big problem if the temperature drops further still, to below 32° Fahrenheit.
Cat Hypothermia Symptoms
The following symptoms are all strongly associated with hypothermia in cats. If you notice any of them, and the temperature has been exceptionally low, you must make an appointment with your vet to halt any problems before they have a chance to get started.
- Exhaustion and weakness;
- Dragging limbs/body;
- Ignoring commands;
- Slow to respond;
- Unusual breathing/difficult breathing;
- Dilated pupils;
- Clammy to touch;
- Abnormal heart rate (low);
- Unusual behavior, such as aggression or disobedience;
- Avoiding food or water.
Read more: Understanding Cat's Body Language
Frostbite in Cats: What to Look Out For
Hypothermia isn’t the only problem you’ll need to concern yourself with if your cat goes outside or is otherwise subjected to cold temperatures; your cat might also require treatment for kitty frostbite!
Cats can get frostbite just like dogs, humans, and other animals. It is painful, restricts movement, and could even prove deadly. If your cat is an outdoorsy winter hiker, make sure to have a plan B by subscribing to the Pet Emergency Fund to make sure you protect them from any potentially harmful and urgent situation.
Once again, if you notice any of the following symptoms of frostbite in cats, it is vital that you seek medical attention for them.
- Ulcers or blisters on the skin;
- Skin feels cold to touch;
- Skin changes color, turning darker and eventually black from a blue-gray shade;
- Aggressive or unusual behavior when you try to touch affected areas;
- Avoiding walking or leaning on affected areas (such as a paw);
- Whining or crying.
Do Cats Like Snow?
Some cats do, and some cats don’t; you never can tell with the funny little furballs.
I had one male, un-neutered cat who absolutely hated the snow. He only ever went out in it once, and never attempted to leave the house while the white stuff was on the ground again. For a cat that hated being locked indoors, he sure seemed to want to stay inside.
Another cat of mine, however, loved the snow. Interestingly, he was the brother of the snow-hater. It just goes to show, cats have their own personalities, mindsets, behavioral patterns, and traits.
The only truthful way to see if your cat likes snow is to put them outside in it and see if they like it. Don’t be surprised if they hate it, though.
How to Keep a Cat Warm Outside
Where possible, keep your kitty inside when the temperature plummets outside. If you have no chance of doing this, you must ensure your pet has everything they’ll need to stay healthy, happy, and safe while they’re out.
An outdoor cat kennel or box is a terrific way of offering up shelter to your pet. It must be raised from the floor to offer warmth and dry shelter, and it also must be made waterproof. Unfortunately, you might end up with a pet fox, a couple of neighborhood strays, and various other random creatures in there.
It is a clever idea to speak with your vet about a tweak to your cat’s diet over winter, too. Whether they are an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, they’ll burn more calories trying to stay warm. To compensate for this, your cat’s winter diet should be slightly more calorific than their summer one.
If you don’t have an outdoor cat flap or another form of kitty door, winter is a great time to install one. This lets your furry friends come and go as they please, returning to warmth and shelter when it gets too cold/rainy/snowy/etc.
How to Make Sure Your Cat is Warm Inside
If your home doesn’t drop to lower than 45° Fahrenheit, it will be warm enough to keep your cat happy. If you want to make them a little happier (and toastier), try some of these tricks:
1: Towel in a Box
If you make sure the old towel has your scent on it, it will not only act as a warming device but also as a comforting one, too. All cats love cardboard boxes, and the material also acts as heating insulation.
You should make sure that your pet has a warm, dry, and safe bed, as well as a warm, dry, and safe space to play around and get the zoomies in. And for checking on these activities when you're out, an interactive cat camera can help you A LOT.
2: Provide Heated Bedding
If you want to go all-out and pamper your cherished companion, you could consider investing in a heated bed for your pet. It works exactly the same as an electric blanket for humans, and there is a wide assortment of sizes and designs on offer, which means that you’re bound to find something you like.
3: Heat the Home
I know this goes without saying and you’re probably already doing it, but just because you’re not at home, doesn’t mean it can sit freezing cold and wait for you to return. Your cat deserves better treatment than that.
Use a timer to have the heating on for a brief burst every now and then. You don’t need to create a little sauna in your home, but a bit of heat now and then will keep your kitty happy, healthy, and warm.
Do cats sleep more in winter?
Yes, they do. (And I don’t blame them!) Cats sleep a lot anyway, but if it’s a little chilly when they wake up, they’ll just go right back to sleep. It is normal for your cat to sleep more when the weather is cold but keep an eye on them and take your pet to the vet if it starts becoming a long-term thing, or a problem.
What temperatures can cats tolerate?
Cats can tolerate temperatures between 45° Fahrenheit and 104° Fahrenheit. Some cats won’t even go that low or high before they start feeling uncomfortable. A cat’s internal body temperature is similar to that of a human, so if you can feel the chill or heat, they can too.
How to keep a kitten warm?
There are lots of ways to keep kittens warm, including lots of towels and blankets, using a wrapped-up hot water bottle, adding heat mats to boxes, and much more besides. It is recommended to speak with a vet about suitable warming and/or cooling methods, to avoid illness or injury.
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