Nobody likes being cold, least of all cats. Felines tend to become considerably more affectionate during the winter due to falling temperatures. When they cuddle up to their owners, and each other, it’s a sign that your cat is feeling cold. This is a classic animal behavior to increase their body heat.
Keeping a cat warm in the home can be something of a balancing act. If you warm up a cool house too much, you risk overheating your cat. This can be just as risky as your cat being too cold. We will discuss how you can keep your cat warm and comfortable during the winter months.
- 1 At What Temperature Do Cats Get Cold?
- 1.1 What is the Ideal Room Temperature for Cats in Winter?
- 1.2 How Do I Know if My Cat is Cold?
- 1.3 My Older Cat Appears to Be Cold During the Winter
- 1.4 Should I Keep My Cat Indoors When it’s Cold Outside?
- 1.5 How Can I Warm Up My Cold Cat?
- 1.6 Should I Change My Cat’s Diet During the Winter?
- 1.7 Is My Cat Too Cold at Night?
- 1.8 Should I Be Concerned That My Cat Sleeps More During the Winter?
- 1.9 Further Information About Cats:
At What Temperature Do Cats Get Cold?
A cat’s base body temperature is 100OF. That’s almost the same as a human. However, humans can tolerate cooler temperatures better than cats.
Humans have options, such as adding more layers of clothing. Many cats will not tolerate such accessorizing, and they can’t just put on a coat when they’re feeling a little chilly.
Anything below 100OF leaves a cat at risk of mild hypothermia. A body temperature of 90OF is too cold. If a feline runs this cool, they are at risk of moderate hypothermia.
If their temperature drops further to around 80OF, the hypothermia risk becomes severe. If a cat cannot get warmer than 60OF, they will likely pass away.
Even feral cats rely on human caretakers during the winter to provide shelter and warmth. It is essential that a domesticated housecat is kept safe and comfortable during the winter months.
What is the Ideal Room Temperature for Cats in Winter?
Maintaining a consistent room temperature during the winter can be tough. The chill outside means that the base temperature of a room is much lower. Warmth is achievable through heating or a fire, but it’s unrealistic to keep these on 24/7.
Cats prefer a slightly warmer ambient temperature to humans. We sit a few yards away from a radiator or fire, lest we grow uncomfortably hot. Cats have no such reservations, and will often curl up right beside a heat source.
Remember, a cat must be able to keep its body temperature above 90OF. Any lower than this is dangerous, and could lead to your pet getting sick. Try to keep your home running a room temperature at about 70OF. This, coupled with the additional warming methods that we’ll discuss, will keep your cat safe.
How Do I Know if My Cat is Cold?
The first thing that you need to be aware of is the symptoms of hypothermia in cats. This is a dangerous medical condition that will need urgent veterinary attention.
Per Wag Walking, these symptoms include:
- Shivering and feeling cold to the touch
- Stiffness in movement
- Lethargy and general weakness
- Dilated pupils
- Low heart rate and shallow, labored breathing
If you spot these symptoms, take your cat to the vet. The sooner you take action, the more like your cat is to make a full recovery.
It’s possible that your cat is too cold without developing hypothermia, though. Cats are not always vocal about their discomfort due to their independent nature. This means that the onus will be on your to keep an eye on your pet. Learn about their body language and winter behaviors.
Some subtle signs that your cat is cold could include:
- Cold ears, and a cold tip of the tail. These are the first body parts to lose heat, and the last to warm up. Your cat will appreciate a heat source if these extremities feel cool.
- Resting on a radiator. This one is fairly obvious – your cat is attempting to gain heat straight from the source. Don’t panic if you see your cat doing this. Cat skin is pretty sturdy, and can handle the temperature. Just try not to let them stay on for too long as a precaution.
- Curling in a ball. Some felines find this to be a comfortable position. A cat tucking their paws and tail beneath their body may be preserving heat, though.
- Seeking constant cuddles. Grab a soft cushion and allow your pet to curl up on your lap. If you have multiple cats, you may find they huddle together during winter. A cold cat is not a fussy cat. They’ll even cuddle a dog if it keeps them warm.
My Older Cat Appears to Be Cold During the Winter
This is a very common occurrence for older cats. As felines age, their joints become increasingly stiff. Arthritis is also a possibility. Cold weather will aggravate this discomfort. It is especially important that you keep older cats as warm as possible during the winter.
Should I Keep My Cat Indoors When it’s Cold Outside?
If your cat is accustomed to being indoors, then this is essential. House-dwelling felines are necessarily equipped to deal with cold weather, as they descended from desert cats. A cat used to cozy indoor temperatures will get a real shock if they venture outside.
A cat that goes wandering during the winter also risks getting hurt, or going missing. When cats find themselves cold, they instinctively seek warmth. If they are far from home, this could be anywhere nearby. A cat may slip into the closest shed or garage, for example.
They may even take shelter under a vehicle. This could end badly for the feline. They may end up unwittingly locked in an outhouse for days or weeks. Vehicles move, too. If a driver doesn’t check for sleeping cats before starting a journey, a tragedy could ensue.
Some cats are stubborn as mules, and will insist on going outside during the winter. Do not fight your cat on this. They’ll drive you crazy if they feel cooped up inside. However, keep an eye on them. Your cat will likely not venture too far, but make sure this is the case.
You may even consider purchasing a harness and lead and accompanying your cat for a walk. Your cat will likely resist this initially, resenting the lack of absolute freedom. They will soon come to realize that outdoor fun is limited when it’s very cold, though. The chances are they’ll want to come home before you do.
How Can I Warm Up My Cold Cat?
It may not be possible to keep your heating on all through winter. This doesn’t mean that your cat needs to suffer, though. There are many ways that you can increase your cat’s body temperature. Sharing body heat through cuddles is the obvious solution. Others include:
Offer Your Cat a Blanket
While it may be tempted to wrap your cat up like a burrito, avoid this. Cats can grow distressed if their movement is restricted. They do love blankets, though, especially if they have a familiar smell.
If you offer your cat a blanket, your cat will arrange it exactly how they like it. Flannel material is best. It feels pleasant to cat paws, and they won’t catch their claws in any stitching.
Purchase a Heating Pad
Pet stores that sell cooling mats in the summer stock heating pads in the winter. This will be something that your cat can lie on and increase their body temperature.
It will be gentler than a radiator. You could use a hot water bottle as an alternative. Just make sure it has a thick cover. If your cat pierces the bottle with their claws, the boiling water could scald them.
Put Your Cat’s Bed in an Elevated Area
Heat rises, that’s basic physics. This means that a bed located at a higher point will be a little warmer. Just keep it safe, and don’t balance the bed on anything.
Your cat may get a little fed up if they are stuck in the house. Also, the more they move, the warmer they’ll be. Play with your cat throughout the winter. Encouraging them to run, chase and jump as much as possible will keep them warm.
One thing that should be avoided, no matter how cute, is a cat sweater. Applying fabric over a fur coat could make your cat overheat. Most cats also refuse to wear clothing, biting or scratching if you attempt to force them. Cats and clothing were just not meant to mix.
Should I Change My Cat’s Diet During the Winter?
Cats burn off a lot of calories staying warm in the winter. This could mean that your pet appears constantly hungry, asking for more and more food.
This is perfectly natural; your cat is not just greedy. Relax your feeding policy a little around the winter. Your cat will need to eat more to stay safe and warm. You could also feed smaller meals more often, rather than larger servings once or twice daily.
Is My Cat Too Cold at Night?
Most of us turn off our heating sources at night so that we’re not too hot to sleep. After all, we have bed covers and blankets to keep up cozy.
If your cat isn’t under the covers with you, however, they lack such luxury, The temperature also drops sharply at night during the winter. This may leave your cat cold overnight.
One way around this could be to share your bed with your cat. This could interfere with your sleep, though. Remember that cats become more active at night. You will also have to be consistent.
If you have a, “no cats on the bed” rule, that’s that. You can’t relax this law in winter, and enforce it in summer. That will confuse your pet.
The best option is to ensure that your cat’s bed is as warm as possible. Line it with warm cushions and blankets, and maybe a hot water bottle. Your cat will probably prefer their own space anyway. They’ll come to you when they want your attention.
Should I Be Concerned That My Cat Sleeps More During the Winter?
We have to remember that cats sleep a lot at any time of year. Even during the summer, they may be spending up to 20 hours a day dozing. You probably notice it more during the winter, while you keep an eye on them.
Your cat may well sleep more during the cold months, just as an act of self-preservation. They may be reserving energy so that they can stay warm. It’s equally likely that they’re just a little bored.
A cat that’s housebound because it’s cold outside may be unsure what to do with themselves. They will opt to snooze to pass the time, and hope that it warms up soon.
Keeping your cat warm during the winter is arguably the most critical part of feline ownership. Don’t wait for acute symptoms to manifest, as by then it could be too late. Observe your cat, possibly taking their temperature from time to time, and keep them toasty.
Above all, remember the one golden rule. Cats and humans run similar base body temperatures, but theirs drop faster. If you are feeling chilly, it’s almost certain that your cat is cold. Do whatever it takes to make them more comfortable while you deal with your own needs.