Our pet cats are like our children; you want to take care of them and keep them happy and healthy.
When the seasons change, we take extra precautions to ensure they’re comfortable, never too hot or too cold.
During the winter, it’s critical to keep your cat as warm as possible to avoid severe reactions such as hypothermia and frostbite.
If you’re chilly, your cat is probably cold as well. But how cold is too cold for cats?
Do Cats Get Cold?
In general, cats have a protective outer coat and an extra layer of insulation provided by their inner coat.
The exception would be short-haired or hairless breeds.
Even still, cats can get cold too.
For example, your cat may get cold while being outside on a particularly chilly day or in a cooler area of the home.
Be mindful of your cat if you reduce the heat when leaving home.
However, if it’s frigid outside, maybe put the heat up a few degrees.
Do Cats Get Cold Easily?
Overall, cats can handle cold temperatures decently.
However, leaving your cat outdoors in the cold overnight is a bad idea, particularly in frigid temperatures.
How Cold Is Too Cold for Cats?
A healthy cat will have a body temperature between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.
An indoor cat will seek warmth more readily, but they’d be fine with temperatures around 50-60 degrees.
Even though outdoor cats are more resistant to the environment, they still need insulation against inclement weather.
Temperatures that dip below 45 degrees are too low, so bring them inside to avoid frostbite on their extremities.
What Can Happen to Cats in the Cold?
Some people make the mistake of leaving their cats outside for long periods, believing that they will quickly adapt to the outdoor environment.
On the contrary, this can put your cat at risk of a severe illness.
Hypothermia happens when the body temperature falls below 99 degrees F, and more heat is lost than is created.
Several signs include:
- Uncoordinated and sluggish movements
- Clammy and cold skin
- Slowed breathing
- Not able to respond to typical stimulation
Frostbite is another danger of being too cold.
If you can’t get to the vet, warm the affected area with warm water.
Additionally, use warm and moist towels—just be sure to change them frequently.
When the affected area becomes flush, stop the treatment.
Dry the area and cover it with a dry bandage (no adhesive).
What Should You Do if You Think Your Cat Has Hypothermia?
There’s a chance that you can reverse the early stages by warming your feline up, but the later stages require immediate treatment.
Call the Vet
Getting hypothermia one time can make them more susceptible to getting it again.
If your pet isn’t responsive within 30 to 45 minutes, go to the emergency vet.
Wrap Your Cat in Blankets
Place your cat in a warm room.
Use a hairdryer or a towel to dry them, and wrap them in a warm blanket.
Use an External Heat Source
Here are some additional external sources of heat to consider:
- Electric bed with low wattage.
- Space heater that stays cool to the touch.
Signs Your Cat Is Cold
Here are the key indicators that your cat is too cold:
Shivering is a sign of pain, anxiety, sickness, and more.
Therefore, you’ll probably have to observe other behaviors to know if being cold is the cause.
Being cold could make your cat puff their fur up and hunch close to the ground.
Grab a few blankets to warm them up.
Seeking Out Warmth
If your cat keeps trying to get in front of the fire, under a blanket, or right on top of your lap, there’s a chance they’re uncomfortably chilly.
Sleeping in a Ball
This position might be your cat’s favorite, but it could also signify that they’re too cold.
They might also touch their tail and paws to conserve heat.
A cat on the verge of hypothermia may experience lethargy and dilated pupils.
This symptom requires immediate medical attention.
Cold to the Touch
How cold is too cold for cats?
If a cat’s tail, nose, paws, and ear tips feel cold, it’s probably too cold for them.
How To Take a Cat’s Temperature
The easiest way to know if your cat’s temperature is below normal is by using a thermometer.
The rectal thermometer is more accurate, but the digital device (in the ear) is more manageable.
How To Use a Rectal Thermometer
Here’s how to use a rectal thermometer:
- Lubricate the thermometer with vaseline after setting it to zero.
- Have your cat stand on the counter with their face in the crevice of your elbow.
- Lift the tail and use your other hand to gently insert the thermometer into their rectum (1-½ inch).
- Keep the thermometer in for a few minutes.
- Remove the device and write down the temperature and the time.
Remember to wash and disinfect the thermometer and your hands afterward.
Which Breeds Can Tolerate Chilly Temperatures Best?
The following breeds can handle cold air with no problem, as their bodies are specially adapted to the lower temperatures.
- Maine Coon: Maine is pretty chilly, so it’s unsurprising the Maine Coon stays warm with its thick coat that extends over its stomach. They also have larger than average paws, so they can travel across snow without sinking.
- Norwegian Forest Cat: The Norwegian Forest Cat has a thick coat that gets thicker around sensitive areas. Their outer coat is water-resistant, and their inner coat provides insulation for warmth.
- Turkish Angora: The Turkish Angora has a medium-long, soft coat that protects them by getting thicker during the winter months.
- Ragdoll: Ragdolls have a thick coat that insulates the body in the winter. However, they lack an outer coat, so they need extra help for warmth.
- Himalayan: The Himalayan has a thick double-layered coat. They also produce a lot of skin oil that prevents water from freezing on the skin.
- Russian Blue: The Russian Blue has a thick double coat and a layer of insulation inside. Their outer coat is coarse and repels moisture and water.
- Manx: The tailless Manx has long legs to keep its body raised from the ground. Their double coats are thick and wrap around their whole body, insulating them in the winter.
- Chartreux: This rare breed is perfect for cold climates as they have a water-resistant double coat!
- Scottish Fold: The rare Scottish Fold has thick fur around the toes, ears, tails, and thighs, keeping vulnerable areas warm during cold months.
- Somali: The Somali has a thick, long coat, and they’re better able to handle cold temperatures because the coat gets even thicker for winter.
- Exotic Shorthair: The Exotic Shorthair mixes an American Shorthair and a Persian cat. They have thick costs and padded paws to get them through the winter.
- American Bobtail: American Bobtails have a shaggy, thick coat with a dual layer. These factors, along with the thickening of the coat to add extra warmth, make them well-suited to cold environments.
How To Keep Your Outdoor Cat Warm During the Winter
Here are ways to keep your outdoor cat warm when it’s cold outside.
Enclosed Outdoor Shelter
Add an enclosed shelter in a covered area like a porch, slightly raised from the ground so they can avoid rain, snow, and bugs.
You can include a heated bed for additional warmth.
Consider throwing a few blankets in the dryer and wrapping your cat inside before taking them back outside.
In addition, put a few blankets in their space to snuggle in.
Hot Water Bottle
Hot water bottles can be wrapped in a towel or blanket and placed in their shelter.
Ensure they can move away from the bottles to prevent overheating.
If the bottle is too hot to hold in your hand, it’s probably too hot for them.
How To Warm Up a Cat
Here are additional ways to keep a cat warm in harsh temperatures:
- Central Heating: Don’t turn the heat on the house down too low if it’s really cold outside. Your cat can benefit from keeping the temperature about 60 degrees, as they should be comfortable while snuggling into a warm spot.
- Portable Heater: Electric heaters can be dangerous. You want a heater that’s cool to the touch and can shut off if it gets knocked over.
- Blankets in Bed: Extra blankets make a bed softer and warmer for your cat. Adding two to three blankets should keep them nice and warm if the bed is not heated.
- Hot Water Bottle: Grab a few hot water bottles and wrap them in a blanket. Place them in your cat’s bed to keep them toasty.
- Insulated Walls and Windows: If your walls and windows are insulated, it prevents draughts from making your cat feel cold if they’re always on the ground, where you feel it most.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the responses to the most commonly asked questions regarding keeping a cat warm:
How can I tell if my cat is cold?
You can tell if your cat starts shivering, tries to snuggle into warm spaces more often than usual, if they feel cold to the touch, or if they’re continually hunching closer to the ground.
How do feral cats keep warm in winter?
Feral cats dig holes, seek abandoned buildings, and get underneath cars. Since they don’t like human contact, they’ll often huddle together for warmth if they’re a part of a colony.
So, how cold is too cold for cats?
While cats shouldn’t be left outside overnight, ensure that they have adequate shelter, food, and water if they are outside and it’s less than 45 degrees.
For indoor cats, try to keep the room temperature around 50-60 degrees.
Cats are similar to us in many ways, especially when it comes to body temperature and feeling too hot or too cold.
Please comment if you have any questions about how to keep your cat warm in the winter.