Despite their luscious fur coats, cats can succumb to hyperthermia very quickly, so temperature maintenance during the winter is important, particularly if you live in a colder climate.
Cats are adaptable to environmental changes and, to a degree (bad pun intended), can acclimate to the temperature. However, ensure your cat’s body temperature doesn’t fall below 90 degrees F (32 degrees C), so your thermostat around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) should ensure your cat is warm and snug throughout the colder months. Anything below 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) is too cold an environment for your kitty and puts them at risk of hyperthermia.
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Finding the Right Temperature for Your Cat
Despite their fluffiness, you may have noticed wherever there is warmth; you’ll find a cat! Whether it’s a strong ray of sunshine, a warm car bonnet (or even near the engine), on or next to a radiator, a log fire, or perhaps their personal favorite – their human’s lap.
Due to their fur coats, cats aren’t as adept at regulating their temperatures as we are, so a little consideration is needed to keep your pet happy and healthy. In order to achieve this, you should maintain a temperature of between fifty to sixty degrees F- (10-16 degrees C). Although don’t be alarmed if they still seek warmer spots to rest; they love to be warm and cozy!
How Cold is Too Cold For Cats?
Naturally, it can depend on the type of coat a cat has. Fluffier cats, such as Maine Coons and Ragdolls – any cat with longer fur – will likely adapt to colder temperatures. Naturally, short-haired cats, such as Siamese cats and English Short-Haired, will be less likely to adapt to colder climates easily compared to long-haired cats. Of course, hairless cats such as Sphinxes will need to be treated accordingly and be provided with consistent warmth and outfits to keep their bare skin warm.
The optimal temperature for a cat to bask in total comfort and happiness is anywhere between 70 to 90 degrees F (21-32 degrees C). Although, your cat will be fine at anything lower than that – as long as it doesn’t go below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees C), which is hyperthermia territory – particularly for outdoor cats.
How to Tell When Your Cat is Too Cold
Although hyperthermia is rare in cats, particularly well-looked-after housecats, it can come on quickly and be fatal. You may notice your cat seeking direct warmth, but don’t be alarmed – this is normal.
Signs your cat is too cold – and is at risk of hyperthermia – include:
● Shivering. Cats can shiver like humans and will do so out of either fear or coldness.
● They are cold to the touch. This can be difficult to discern, particularly with fluffy cats, but you can check certain areas that aren’t so well insulated, such as their ears and paw pads.
● Low heart rate.
● Dilated pupils.
● Extreme laziness (lethargy).
● Shallow breath.
Please note: these symptoms can be quite generic and do not necessarily mean your cat is developing hyperthermia. However, they warrant veterinary attention. Always consult your local vet if you’re witnessing any of these symptoms in your cat.
Symptoms of frostbite in cats include:
● Shivering (uncontrollable).
● Your cat exhibits signs of being in pain.
● Swollen skin.
● Blisters, ulcers, brittle/flaky skin.
● Skin that is blue, black, or has died.
What to Do if You Think Your Cat Has Hyperthermia
If you think your cat has gotten too cold or has hyperthermia, here’s what to do to help them and prevent the situation from turning critical or even fatal:
● Bring them inside and keep them in a warm room – wrap them in a blanket or warm towel if necessary. Hot water bottles/heat pads can be a valuable addition too.
● If your cat appears to be rather listless, has blue lips/nose, or is shaking uncontrollably, seek veterinary attention immediately.
● Massaging your cat can help warm its skin and keep frostbite at bay.
● Avoid allowing your cat outside in the cold again until you have the all-clear from the vet.
The bottom line is to ensure you treat your cat immediately; even if unsure, consult a vet.
How to Prevent Your Cat From Getting Too Cold
Keeping your cat warm is vital for its health and happiness, particularly if they are older and less likely to exercise. Here are a few ways to keep your furry friend warm in the colder months:
● Make sure they have a protein-rich, nutrient-dense diet.
● Allow them to come indoors. “Outdoor cats” without access to a warm, dry shelter are not living healthy, happy, or safe lives.
● Keep an eye on their paws to make sure they’re not showing signs of frostbite.
● Toys and enrichment can keep them entertained and well-exercised, which helps to warm them.
● Keep them dry. If your cat has gotten caught in icy-cold rain, dry them with a towel and warm them up as soon as possible.
● Allow them to bask on or in front of warm things like the fireplace, plug-in heaters, and radiators – but ensure safety. Use fire guards and make sure radiators and heaters aren’t too high to prevent burns.
How Cold is Too Cold For Cats: FAQs
Can Cats Stay Out All Night in the Cold?
If you don’t have a cat flap, ensuring your cat has access to an indoor, well-insulated space can be wise. Most vets will advise against forcing your cat to be exposed to cold elements for prolonged periods. Even just a warm, fluffy bed in the garden shed to seek refuge until the morning is better than them being stuck outside for hours on end.
The golden rule is – if you’re cold, they’re cold.
Will Cats be Okay in a Cold House?
As mentioned above, as long as your home’s temperature does not dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, your cat is not at risk of hyperthermia. But remember that being warm and cozy is instrumental to your cat’s happiness; therefore, don’t be stingy with that thermostat!