There is nothing quite like snuggling up with your cat indoors during the winter, but many cats – whether they are indoor pets that occasionally go out, or they are outdoor neighborhood cats with no owners – spend a lot of time outside, even in the dead of winter. If you’re a pet parent or just a concerned neighbor, you might be wondering: do cats get cold?
Cats generally have fluffy and dense coats, so it seems like they wouldn’t get cold, right? But our feline friends aren’t immune to the weather conditions.
In this article, we will explore some key information about whether cats can get cold and how they deal with it, to keep themselves healthy. So when winter comes around, you know how to keep your cat safe throughout the colder months.
Do Cats Get Cold?
The short answer to this question is yes, cats get cold. Despite the fact that they are very adaptable animals, they have a similar body temperature to humans. Cats, particularly pet cats, aren’t used to extreme weather, and therefore get cold just like humans do.
The good news is that their fur coat does a good job of insulating them when they spend the majority of their time indoors. That being said, it’s important that you don’t leave your cat outdoors for a long period of time, as cats with thick coats are still at risk of the cold if you don’t provide them with shelter.
In extreme weather conditions, they can even develop frostbite or hypothermia if they’re left out in the cold for too long.
How Cold Is Too Cold For A Cat To Be Outdoors?
If the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it is too cold for your cat to be outdoors. Additionally, if the temperature drops significantly below freezing, they are at a much higher risk of developing hypothermia if they are left to their own devices outside for an extended period of time.
It’s also important to note that hairless cats, cats with naturally short coats(such as Devon and Cornish Rex cats), or cats that have had their fur groomed very short shouldn’t be left outdoors during the winter months. This comes down to the fact that they’re at higher risk without the insulation that a longer coat provides.
While obese cats are better insulated to deal with the cold, they are also much slower. This means that if they were allowed to roam around outdoors in extreme weather conditions, they could get themselves into trouble should they get stuck.
How Can You Ensure That Your Cat Is Safe Outside?
There are a variety of different ways you can help to ensure that your cat is safe when they’re outside during the colder months. These methods include but are not limited to:
Regularly Check Access To The Cat Flap
If you’ve got a cat flap or cat door, you’ll need to ensure that your cat can get in and out of your home. Particularly cold conditions, such as heavy snowfall might result in the cat flap becoming frozen shut or blocked, preventing your cat from being able to get in and out of your home freely.
You should also consider blocking the cat’s access to the cat door in extreme conditions so that they can’t get outside in the first place. This is the best way to keep a cat safe from the cold.
Keep Fresh Water Sources Indoors
You will need to make sure that your cat has plenty of fresh water indoors. If you usually leave a water bowl for them outdoors on your porch, for instance, the cold weather could result in their outside sources of the freshwater freezing.
Ensure That Your Cat Comes Indoors At Night
To make sure your cat is safe, your cat needs to come inside at night. Once they are indoors, always lock the cat flap to ensure they can’t get outside again when they’re left to their own devices. Place their bed in a warm, comfortable, and safe place to sleep.
Temperatures drop even further at night, which makes it even more dangerous for our feline friends.
Check Sheds And Garages
If you can’t find your cat to get them indoors, make sure that you are regularly checking your shed and garage to rule these places out where they could be hiding.
They could be locked inside, and during the winter, this isn’t a warm enough place for them.
Keep Them Indoors When The Temperature Drops Significantly
If the temperature drops significantly, such as during a snowstorm or a bout of particularly cold weather, it’s safest to keep your cat indoors.
Despite the fact they might be restless when kept indoors, pet cats aren’t equipped to deal with extreme temperatures. If they’re left to their own devices in the snow and ice, they can even develop hypothermia or frostbite in extreme circumstances.
What About Outdoor & Stray Cats
If you live in an area where there are stray and feral cats, you might be concerned about their well-being during the winter months. The best thing you can do is try to provide a place where the cat can shelter from brutal conditions.
This might be a barn or a dedicated cat house. You can even put an old cat carrier outside with a blanket on top to insulate it. You might also put out fresh food and water if you can keep it from freezing.
Most healthy cats can and will find a place to survive the winter, but older and frail cats or kittens might have a hard time knowing what to do for themselves. If you’re worried about a cat in your area, you could try to take it inside or find a shelter to take it to if the temperature drops below freezing.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Too Cold
Accidents happen. No cat owner is perfect. Sometimes your cat will end up outside in the cold, and when you find them or they come inside you should check for these signs.
- Their skin feels cold to the touch, especially around their ears, paws, and tails. Shivering or shaking. Walking or moving slowly, acting lethargic, or acting weak. Low heart rate. Seeking warm places to sleep or sit.
- If your cat is cold to the touch, shivering has a low heart rate, or is acting lethargic take your cat to the vet immediately. They may be experiencing hypothermia, which can be fatal to cats.
- If your cat comes in from the cold make sure to offer them warm places to heat back up. These can be blankets, heated beds, heating pads wrapped in blankets or towels, and give them lots of snuggles.
So, there you have it. Yes, cats get cold, and keeping them safe from the elements during the cold months of winter is your responsibility as their owner.
It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cats in the cold. Cats are generally good at handling themselves but it’s our duty as cat owners to keep them safe.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of how you can keep your cats protected during the winter.
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