How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Cold?

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cat wearing a scarf

You might not think your cat can get cold since he’s basically always wearing a fur coat and spends all his time indoors.

But cats do get chilly (even if it’s just from the AC), so it’s important to know the signs that your cat’s cold and when it’s time to turn up the thermostat.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Christian Cumberbatch, director of medicine at easyvet in Georgia, to find out how to tell if it’s too cold for your cat.

At what temperature do cats get cold?


According to Dr. Cumberbatch, most cats will be OK in temperatures around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cats prefer it to be on the warmer side, though, so around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal indoor temperature for your cat.

If it drops below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), cats who go outside can be at risk for developing hypothermia, which is when the body temperature drops dangerously low, to the point where it’s an emergency (more on how to tell if your cat has hypothermia below).

Factors that could make your cat sensitive to cold


Some cats can be more susceptible to the cold weather, and there are a number of factors that affect how well your cat adapts to the cold.

“Age, coat and fur type and length, size of the cat, and any underlying medical conditions can make a cat more sensitive to the cold,” Dr. Cumberbatch told The Dodo.

  • Age — Kittens and older cats can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adult cats, so they can get cold more easily.
  • Type of coat — Hairless cats are more sensitive to the cold than cats with fur since they have nothing covering their skin, and they sometimes need a sweater even when inside. Similarly, cats with shorter fur can get cold more easily than cats with thick fur or long hair.
  • Size and weight — Smaller cats get cold more easily than larger cats because they have less body fat to keep them warm.
  • Underlying medical conditions — Some medical issues, such as hyperthyroidism, can cause cats to be more sensitive to colder temperatures.

How to tell if your cat’s cold


If your cat’s cold, he’ll probably try to find places to warm up, like sitting close to you or next to your radiator.

“Your cat will show heat-seeking behaviors, such as trying to seek refuge below blankets or laying in warm areas of the floor or room,” Dr. Cumberbatch said.

He may also curl up into a loaf position to preserve energy and heat.

If your cat’s cold, he might feel cold to the touch when you pet him, too. So if you pet your cat and notice that his ears, paws or tail are chilly, you probably need to turn up the heat.

Signs of hypothermia in cats


If your cat’s been in cold temperatures for too long, he can develop hypothermia. Here are the signs of hypothermia in cats to look for:

  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Frostbite
  • Slow breathing
  • Stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low heart rate

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet immediately.

How to keep your cat warm during the winter


Here are some tips on how to keep your cat warm and toasty.

Get your cat a cozy bed


According to Dr. Cumberbatch, the best way to keep your cat warm is to “simply make warm areas available to your cat.”

A great way to do that is to provide him with a cozy cat bed that he’ll love snuggling up in for naps.

Try this burrow cat bed that’s basically like a fuzzy sleeping bag from Chewy for $31.24

Get a heated bed


There are even heated cat beds to keep your cat extra warm — perfect for winter.

This cat bed is self-warming, and you can get it from Amazon for $19.99

Put your cat’s bed in the sun


If your cat loves to lounge in the sun, help him get even more comfortable by moving his bed or cat tree into the sunlight so he can soak up the warmth.

Give your cat blankets


Let your cat have his own blanket to hide under in case he gets chilly (and so you won’t get cat hair all over your blankets).

Get your cat a sweater


Sweaters and jackets will not only look super adorable on your cat, but they’ll keep him warm, too.

And hairless cats are super vulnerable to the cold (even if it’s just air conditioning), so they may need to wear a sweater inside all the time, not just when it’s cold outside. If you have a hairless cat, it’s definitely a good idea to invest in some cat clothing.

You can get this cat sweater from Amazon for $11.98

Adjust the indoor temperature


About 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal indoor temperature for cats, so make sure to keep your house around that temperature.

Limit outdoor time


Keep your cat inside during the winter so he doesn’t get too cold.

And if you have an outdoor cat, don’t let him stay outside for extended periods of time or overnight in the winter.

Cuddle with your cat


A fun way to keep both you and your cat warm is to cuddle with him, like this cat dad does with his BFF.

When you get cold, keep in mind that your cat might be cold, too. But if you use these tips, you’ll be able to keep him toasty all winter.

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