Do Cats Get Cold Easily?

Do Cats Get Cold Easily?

Cats are known for their luxurious fur coats and love of napping in sunny spots. But when temperatures drop, do cats get cold just like humans? The answer is yes – cats can definitely feel chilly when the weather turns cold. While they have some natural defenses against the cold, cats still need our help keeping warm and comfortable during winter.

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about cats and cold weather. You’ll learn how cats regulate body temperature, their ideal temperature range, signs of hypothermia, and tips to keep your feline friend warm and healthy all winter long.

Normal Cat Body Temperature

The average healthy cat has a body temperature between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38°C and 39.2°C) Anything between 99°F and 102.5°F (37.2°C and 39.2°C) is generally considered normal and healthy This range allows some natural fluctuation while still staying within healthy limits.

How Cats Regulate Body Temperature

Cats have several methods for regulating their body temperature to stay within their normal range of 101-102°F (38-39°C) [1]. Their bodies are designed to conserve heat when it’s cold and release heat when it’s hot.

To warm up, cats will first exhibit behaviors to reduce heat loss. They will curl up into a ball, seek out warm places to rest, expose less surface area, and puff up their fur to trap air [2]. Cats also utilize vasoconstriction, where blood vessels narrow to preserve body heat. If these methods are insufficient, their bodies respond by shivering and increasing metabolic rate to generate more internal warmth.

To cool down, cats rely heavily on panting and sweating through the paws [3]. Panting brings cool air into the mouth and throat, where blood vessels exchange heat. Cats also exhibit behaviors like stretching out on cool surfaces, licking themselves, and seeking shade. Their blood vessels will vasodilate to move warm blood closer to the skin for heat dissipation. If overheated, a cat may drool excessively or vomit to cool down.

Ideal Temperature Range for Cats

The ideal ambient temperature range for cats is between 77-86°F (25-30°C) according to Catster [1]. This comfortable range allows cats to properly thermoregulate their body temperature. Cats have a normal body temperature between 99-102.5°F (37.2-39.2°C) as noted by Hill’s Pet Nutrition [2].

If the ambient temperature falls outside this ideal range, cats may show signs of being too hot or too cold. Signs a cat is too hot include panting, drooling, stretching out to increase surface area, seeking cooler spots, and decreased appetite. Cats trying to get warm may shiver, venture toward heat sources, sleep curled up in a ball, seem more sluggish, and exhibit poor grooming habits.

Factors That Affect Thermoregulation

There are several factors that can impact a cat’s ability to effectively regulate its body temperature:


Kittens and senior cats often have a harder time regulating their temperature compared to healthy adult cats. Kittens’ thermoregulation systems are still developing, while senior cats’ systems may become less efficient with age (Exploring Body Temperature in Cats: Understanding the Feline Thermoregulation System).

Health Conditions

Certain diseases like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and heart disease can impair a cat’s ability to regulate its body temperature. Cats with these conditions may be more prone to getting too hot or cold (Low Body Temperature in Cats – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost).

Hair Coat

Cats with very thin coats or no fur, like sphynx cats, can have a harder time retaining body heat. Long-haired cats may get too hot more easily. Keeping the coat well-groomed can help regulate temperature (Do cats get heatstroke too?).

Tips to Keep Cats Warm

There are several tips and ways to keep cats warm when the temperatures drop:

Provide a heated pet bed for your cat to sleep in. Heated beds help maintain your cat’s normal body temperature and keep them from getting chilled. Make sure to follow the safety guidelines and test the temperature settings to ensure it’s not too hot. A heated bed provides a warm, cozy place for your cat to curl up.

Get your cat a sweater or jacket designed for pets. The light insulation helps trap their body heat to keep them warm. Look for sweaters that are soft, stretchy and loose enough not to restrict movement. Allow your cat time to get used to wearing a sweater before prolonged use. Proper coverage with a coat or sweater will help maintain your cat’s core body temperature.

Provide proper outdoor shelter from the elements if your cat goes outside. An insulated outdoor cat house raised off the ground can protect your cat from cold, wet ground. The shelter should be large enough for your cat to move around but small enough to retain body heat. Place the shelter in a protected area out of the wind and rain.

Signs of Hypothermia

The most telltale sign of hypothermia is a low body temperature. A normal body temperature for cats ranges from 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Serious hypothermia develops when body temperature falls below 94 degrees.

As body temperature decreases, cats will begin shivering as their body tries to generate heat through muscle contractions. Shivering is one of the early warning signs of hypothermia. The shivering may start mildly but become more intense as body temperature continues to fall. According to PetMD, violent shivering indicates the body temperature has dropped to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lethargy and weakness are other common signs of feline hypothermia. Cats may have difficulty moving around and seem drowsy or disoriented. As body temperature drops, nerve and brain functions slow down, leading to fatigue and lack of coordination. The lethargy worsens as hypothermia progresses. In severe cases, the cat may collapse, stop responding, or become unconscious.

Treatment for Hypothermia

The main goals of treating hypothermia in cats are to gradually rewarm the cat and treat any underlying conditions that may have led to the drop in body temperature. Here are some of the most common treatments vets use:

Warm ambient temperature – Vets will aim to slowly raise the cat’s body temperature by creating a comfortably warm ambient temperature around 79-86°F. This is often done by placing the cat in a warm room or in an incubator-like device that allows warm air to circulate around the cat’s body.

Heating pads – Low-temperature heating pads or heated water bottles wrapped in towels can be placed underneath and around the cat to provide gentle warming. Caution should be taken not to overheat any one area of the cat’s body.

Fluid therapy – Warm intravenous or subcutaneous fluids help warm the cat from the inside out. Fluids also help support the circulatory system and prevent dehydration.

Prevention of Hypothermia

The most important way to prevent hypothermia in cats is to not leave them outside, especially during cold or wet weather. Cats allowed to roam outdoors unsupervised are at high risk. Keep cats indoors where it is climate controlled.

If cats must be outside for a short time, provide them with a warm, dry shelter such as an insulated cat house or even a cardboard box with plenty of blankets. The shelter should protect them from wind, rain, snow, and cold temperatures.

Check cats regularly for signs of illness like fever or infection, which can make them more prone to hypothermia. Treating any illness promptly reduces risk. Keep cats up-to-date on vaccines as well.

Make sure cats always have access to food and clean water. Proper nutrition supports their immune system and healthy thermoregulation. Senior cats or very young kittens may need extra monitoring and care.

Don’t shave long-haired cats in winter – their coat helps insulate them. Brush regularly to prevent matting which reduces insulation. Overweight and obese cats may have more difficulty regulating body temperature.

Know the signs of hypothermia so action can be taken quickly if needed. Prevention is always best, but prompt veterinary treatment can save lives when hypothermia does occur.


In conclusion, cats do get cold relatively easily compared to humans due to their small body size and lack of protective fat tissue and sweat glands. While cats can regulate their body temperature by shivering and modifying blood flow, they still have an ideal temperature range of 29-38°C and can develop hypothermia in cold environments. To keep cats warm, provide a warm sleeping area and limit exposure during cold weather. Signs of hypothermia include lethargy, shivering, and cool extremities. If caught early, hypothermia can be treated by gradually warming the cat and providing supportive care. Preventing exposure and maintaining ideal indoor temperatures are key to protecting cats from the cold.

The answer is that yes, cats do tend to get cold more easily than humans. Their small size, lack of sweat glands, and limited fat stores make it challenging for cats to retain body heat. This is why behaviors like seeking warm spots to sleep and curling up into a ball are so common in cats – it helps them conserve warmth. Being aware of temperatures that are too cold for cats and taking preventative measures like providing insulated beds and limiting time outdoors in very cold weather is important for any cat owner. With some adjustments, you can help your feline friend stay cozy and comfortable during winter.

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