Keeping Your Cat Warm During the Winter
Do you think that your cat usually stays warmer than you do in the wintertime, even indoors? Because they have fur coats, many cat owners believe that, even if the temperature inside the home feels cold to humans, their cats won’t get cold in the house. This isn’t always true, however. Let’s take a closer look at how to keep your cat warm inside during the winter.
Do Cats Get Cold Easily?
The normal body temperature of a kitty is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit – warmer than a human’s average body temperature of 98.6 degrees F. For this reason. cats can generally handle indoor temperatures that we think of as cold pretty well. Remember, never leave a cat outside overnight, especially when it’s around freezing. It’s a good idea to have a nice, cozy, warm cat bed indoors for kitty to use to keep warm in the wintertime (and all year round). Keeping your indoor thermostat at a cozy 60 degrees F is generally sufficient to keep your cat warm indoors.
How Do Cats Regulate Their Own Body Temperature?
In warmer, indoor environments, cats regulate their own body temperature in different manners. They do not panic as they become overheated, the way that dogs tend to do. Cats, instead, will become very still and quiet, so as not to build up more heat in their body. They will seek out cool places in the house (like a basement floor) and lie on it to reduce their own body heat. Drinking water also helps to keep cats from becoming dehydrated in the heat.
Fun fact: Cats do sweat, from their paw pads and nose, if they are exposed to extreme heat. They may even pant like a dog to expel heat from their body.
How Cold is Too Cold for Cats?
Veterinarians say that, as a rule, anything below 45 degrees F is too cold for cats. Cats who are outdoors in weather that is below freezing are prone to developing hypothermia. Staying cold for too long is bad for a cat’s immune system and can lead to them being sickly more often than cats who are warm.
Remember, too, that every cat’s temperature tolerance is different. Hairless cats will, of course, get colder quicker than cats with fur. They may even require a sweater indoors in the wintertime. Cats who have a bit more weight on them will usually stay warm more easily than “skinny” cats.
Cats who have certain health conditions are also at a higher risk of hypothermia. These include:
- Renal disease
- Heart disease
Cats with any of the above health conditions or diseases should not be allowed outside, at any temperature, veterinarians caution.
How Will I Know If My Cat is Cold?
Cats display that they are being affected by the cold similar to ways that humans do. Some examples of how kitties act when they are cold include:
- Sitting in a hunched-over position
- The cat’s ears, paws and the tip of her tail are cold
- The cat is sleeping on or right next to sources of heat (like a radiator)
- Curling up into a ball (if that’s not a normal sleeping position for your cat)
- Wanting to cuddle up next to you or on your lap more often than usual
Make sure that you always provide a nice, warm cat bed, blankets, and other cozy areas for your cat to curl up in inside the house. Also keep kitty’s water bowl full, as the drier air in the wintertime will make her thirstier, and dehydration can set in quickly if she lacks water.
If your cat has been exposed to extreme cold temperatures (under 45 degrees F), and you are afraid that she has developed hypothermia, take her to the vet right away. Signs of hypothermia in cats could include:
- Dilated pupils
- Stiff muscles
- Difficulty breathing or slow, shallow breathing
- Slow and/or inaudible heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
How Can I Help My Cat Stay Warm Inside in the Wintertime?
In order to help your cat stay warm inside your home during the winter, make sure that your thermostat isn’t set too low. Believe it or now, 60 degrees F seems to be the perfect house temperature for cats (although that might sound a bit low to us humans). Other things that you can do to help keep kitty warm include:
- Provide a nice, warm cat bed
- Provide plenty of blankets just for kitty to curl up in
- Consider a heated cat bed if your cat is constantly cold, older, or has arthritis (don’t use a heating pad wrapped in a towel, however, as it can easily burn kitty’s skin)
- Keep your cat’s bed elevated (heat rises, so cats who are elevated are warmer than cats at ground level)
- Consider a sweater for your hairless cat
- Provide plenty of sunshine for your cat during the day by leaving curtains open, and allow her to enjoy the warmth
- Play with your cat more during the daytime. Encouraging exercise can help boost your cat’s body temperature and also forge a closer bond with you
- Provide extra food to your cat during colder weather. Cats burn more calories in the wintertime than in warmer weather, just to stay warm.
- Consider sharing your bed with your cat, as long as it doesn’t keep you awake to do so
If you have to take your cat outside during the winter months (say, to the veterinarian), make sure to keep her warm. Put warm, insulated padding or blankets inside her carrier, and use an extra blanket to put overtop of her carrier when you are carrying her outdoors. Never leave a cat in the car, whether it’s cold or warm outside. Cars can get very cold very fast, and cats can become hypothermic in a flash.
By following the tips above, you can make sure that your kitty stays nice and cozy and warm indoors during even the coldest winter temperatures!