How Do I Know If My Cat Is Cold?
You only want the best for your kitty. That's why you might find yourself wondering in the colder winter months, "How do I know if my cat is cold?" Signs that your cat may be too cold include shivering, puffing his fur, a cold tail, nose, and seeking warmer spots to cuddle. Here's how to help your fur baby stay warm and toasty in the cold winter months.
Signs That Your Cat Is Cold
If your cat is really cold, he may start shivering, just like a person would. Shivering can also be a sign of anxiety, pain, or illness, so it's important to observe what else your cat is doing. Panting while shivering, for example, can be a sign of stress or pain.1 It can also be a sign of having a fever, especially if accompanied by decreased grooming or eating. If you have any doubt, visit your vet.
2. Hunching Down & Puffed
Cold cats may hunch down closer to the ground and puff their fur up a little. If a cat stands tall and puffs her fur, she's usually sensing a threat. But if she's hunched down and slightly puffed, she may be feeling cold.
3. Colder Extremities
A cold cat's extremities may feel cooler to the touch than normal, like the tips of his ears, tail, or nose. A cat in danger of hypothermia may become sluggish, with dilated pupils or shallow breathing. Symptoms like that may require immediate vet attention.
4. Seeking Warmer Places
A cold cat might seek out warmer spaces more frequently than usual. This can include burrowing under covers, snuggling on your lap, or trying to sleep on a warm spot like a heated vent. Of course, this varies from cat to cat. Some cats want to snuggle all the time whether it's hot or cold, so you'll want to watch for changes in behavior.
How Cold Is Too Cold for Cats Inside?
Some people like to keep their homes chilly during the winter so they can bundle up in blankets, but is this OK for your cat? Finding the ideal room temperature for cats in the winter really depends on the breed. Cats' normal body temperatures can range from 99.5°F to 102.5°F, but what they need to stay warm varies depending on their weight and fur.2
A long-haired cat will be OK with a colder home, while a short-haired or skinny cat might need it warmer. Meanwhile, a hairless cat like a Sphynx3 will feel really cold even if you're feeling just a little chilled in your home. So it's best to watch for the signs listed above and either warm the house up a little or provide nesting areas where your cat can warm up.
How to Help Your Cat Stay Toasty Warm
Your cat can stay toasty warm if you give her lots of warm places to snuggle indoors.
This can include heated beds placed in your cat's favorite spots.4 Heating pads meant for people should not be provided to cats, because they have the potential to overheat your kitty. Consider using a self-warming bed designed specifically for cats instead.
A flat bed is good for cats that prefer spreading out, while a soft, self-warming covered bed can be good for cats who like quiet, dark places. Heated cat beds, like the thermo-lookout pod, plug in are designed not to get too hot.
You might also want to let your cat snuggle next to you under the covers at night. As an added benefit, this will help keep you warmer too.
Consider setting up a perch or bed by a sunny window that's free of drafts. Even if it's cold outside, the rays of sunshine can be a great source of heat.
If your cat is hungry in the winter, you might want to feed your cat a little extra.5 Cats in colder environments may need extra calories. But don't go overboard, because cat obesity brings its own set of health problems. Talk to your vet about a healthy amount.
For hairless cats, you may need to take some extra measures. While most cats don't like clothes, Sphynx cats might need a little cat hoodie or sweater in the colder winter months. Look for soft fabrics and avoid anything that's itchy to their skin.
As you can see, the ideal temperature for your cat in the winter really depends on his preferences and how cold your home is. Watch for any signs that your cat's too cold, and set up beds and soft perches so your cat has lots of places to warm up.