Do Cats Need Blankets For Warmth?

Do Cats Need Blankets to Stay Warm?

Cats have several built-in mechanisms for staying warm, including a higher normal body temperature, thick fur coats, and the ability to curl up tightly to conserve heat (1). So in general, healthy cats do not require blankets or other external warmth sources to maintain a comfortable temperature (2).

However, there are some situations in which cats may benefit from extra warmth from blankets or heating pads (3):

  • Kittens under 4 weeks old have difficulty regulating their body temperature and need external heat sources
  • Older cats may have a harder time retaining body heat due to less efficient circulation
  • Sick, injured, or recovering cats should be kept warm to aid healing
  • Hairless or very short-haired cat breeds like Sphynxes lack the fur insulation of other cats
  • Overly timid or anxious cats may benefit from a warm hiding place
  • Cats exposed to cold environments, especially below 50°F/10°C

So while most cats don’t require blankets or other warming aids, certain individuals or situations warrant taking steps to provide extra warmth.





Cats Have Built-In Warmth Mechanisms

Cats are naturally equipped with features that help them regulate their body temperature and stay warm. One of the most important is their fur coat. A cat’s fur provides insulation by trapping air close to the skin to retain body heat. The thickness and length of the fur depends on the breed, but all cats have a protective layer of fur to help conserve warmth.

Cats also know how to position themselves to prevent heat loss. When resting or sleeping, cats tend to curl up tightly, tucking their paws and face into their body. This allows them to expose less surface area and trap heat within their curled up body. Their small size compared to their furry coat gives them a high surface area to body volume ratio, which helps minimize heat loss.

Additionally, a cat’s normal body temperature is higher than humans. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the normal body temperature for cats ranges from 101.0 to 102.5°F compared to the average human’s 98.6°F. Their higher internal body heat gives them a kind of built-in central heating system.

Some Cats May Need Extra Warmth

While most adult cats with normal fur coats can maintain their body temperature without assistance, certain types of cats may need extra help staying warm. This includes:

Kittens – Very young kittens have difficulty regulating their body temperature. Kittens under 4 weeks old in particular need to be kept warm with blankets, heating pads, or cuddling with mom and litter-mates. Older kittens still benefit from warm bedding. Putting clothes on your Sphynx

Elderly cats – Senior cats tend to have slower metabolisms and decreased fat layers as they age. Providing warm cat beds and blankets can help compensate for their reduced ability to conserve body heat.

Hairless cats – Breeds like Sphynx cats lack the insulating fur layer to retain warmth. Hairless cats appreciate sweaters, blankets, heated cat beds and other sources of warmth, especially when temperatures dip. Clothing On Cats – Is it Ethical?

Sick or injured cats – Illness and injury can make it harder for cats to maintain their normal body temperature. Offering a warm, comfortable place to rest and recover helps them conserve energy for healing.

Ideal Temperature Range for Cats

Cats do best in warm temperatures ranging from 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 30 degrees Celsius). This is the temperature range where cats are the most comfortable and can regulate their body temperature naturally without getting overheated or chilled (Source 1). At temperatures above or below this range, cats may start to show signs of discomfort.

Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit pose a danger of cats getting too cold. Cats’ bodies aren’t as efficient at regulating in cold temperatures. Prolonged exposure can lead to hypothermia. Cats may shiver, seem lethargic, and lose appetite when too cold (Source 3).

On the opposite end, temperatures above 86 degrees can risk cats overheating, especially in humid weather. Signs of overheating include panting, drooling, reddened ears, and lethargy. Heat stroke is possible at extremes and can be fatal if untreated, so it’s important to keep indoor spaces climate controlled in very hot weather (Source 2).

Signs Your Cat is Too Cold

There are several telltale signs that indicate your cat may be too cold. One of the most obvious is shivering. Just like humans, cats shiver when their body temperature drops too low in order to generate heat through muscle movements. Shivering is an involuntary response and a clear indication your cat needs warming up.

Cats feeling chilly will also seek out warm spots like sunny patches, heat vents, or snuggled up next to you under the blankets. If your cat is suddenly eager to cuddle or moving to warm areas after avoiding them, they may be colder than comfortable.

You may also notice your cat’s fur puffing up more than usual as the hair stands on end to trap heat. The fur on the tail and ears especially tends to fluff up when a cat is cold. This helps minimize heat loss from extremities.

Lethargy or reduced activity levels can signify your cat is conserving energy to stay warm. A cold cat may move less or sleep more. Lack of appetite can also occur when cold since digestion produces internal warmth. Cats feeling chilly are less inclined to eat.

Paying attention to these signs can clue you in that your cat would appreciate some extra warmth. Knowing what to look for helps ensure your feline friend stays cozy.

Tips for Keeping Cats Warm

One great way to provide extra warmth for cats is to use pet-safe heating pads. There are heating pads made specifically for pets that distribute gentle warmth without getting too hot. Place the heating pad under your cat’s bed to create a cozy spot for them to curl up in. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines and never leave a heating pad unattended.

You can also look for insulated cat beds designed to retain warmth. These beds often have thick, plush walls along with a faux fur lining to trap your cat’s body heat inside. Orthopedic foam cat beds for elderly cats can provide cushioning and insulation [1]. An enclosed cat bed placed in a sunny window perch gives your cat a warm place to soak up the sun’s rays.

If your cat likes to snuggle under blankets, provide a soft fleece throw or sweater for your cat to burrow into. Just supervise your cat to ensure the blanket doesn’t cause overheating or get tangled around your cat’s legs.

Providing a Warm Cat Bed

Providing your cat with a warm, cozy place to sleep is one of the best ways to keep them comfortable when it’s chilly. There are several types of cat beds that can provide extra warmth:

Enclosed beds with hoods or partial enclosures help trap your cat’s body heat inside. Products like the K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty Deluxe Hooded Cat Bed have a faux lambswool interior for insulation and a hood to keep warmth in.

Heated cat beds and pads use electricity to gently warm from underneath. Options like the K&H Thermo-Kitty Heated Cat Bed offer adjustable temperature settings and auto shut-off for safety.

Placing cat beds up off the floor can also help, since cold from the floor won’t radiate up into the bed as much. Putting beds on furniture or cat shelves gets them away from drafts and retains heat better.

Providing a warm, comfortable place to sleep will help keep your cat’s body temperature in the optimal range when it’s chilly out.

Using Pet-Safe Heating Pads

Heating pads designed specifically for pets can provide extra warmth for cats that tend to feel chilly. Pet heating pads heat to a safe, low temperature to prevent burns. They often have a chew-resistant cord and waterproof cover as added safety features.

When using a pet heating pad, place it on a soft surface in your cat’s favorite resting spot. Avoid placing it directly in their bed, as too much direct contact could overheat your cat. The pad should be easily accessible, but not in a high-traffic area or somewhere your cat could chew on the cord.

Take precautions when using any electrical device around pets. Don’t leave a heated pet pad unattended, and unplug it when not in use. Check the product specs for automatic shut-off features in case it gets knocked askew. Look for UL certification to ensure electrical and fire safety standards are met.

While heating pads are generally safe when used properly, always supervise your pet the first few times using a new heated bed or pad. Ensure the temperature is not too warm for your cat before extended use.


Letting Cats Snuggle Under Blankets

Many cats enjoy burrowing and snuggling under soft, warm blankets. Blankets can provide cats comfort and security, while also helping them retain body heat. There are several advantages to letting cats snuggle under blankets:

Blankets help cats stay warm, especially important for kittens, elderly cats, and breeds like Sphynx that have little fur. The insulation of a blanket traps the cat’s body heat close to their body, raising their core temperature. This is useful in colder households or seasons when cats may need extra warmth. According to veterinarians, a cat’s normal body temperature ranges between 100°F and 102.5°F.

The enclosed, den-like space under a blanket can help anxious or scared cats feel more secure and relaxed. The pressure and tactile feedback of a blanket can have a calming effect.

Allowing cats under blankets enables their natural burrowing instinct and desire for small cozy spaces. It provides enrichment and comfort.

When introducing blankets, go slow to avoid overwhelming your cat. Begin by placing a lightly draped blanket nearby your cat’s favored sleeping area and rewarding with treats when they go near it. You can also rub some catnip on the blanket to entice your cat. Once your cat is regularly napping under the blanket, you can start draping it more snugly over them.

Check that your cat can easily get themselves in and out from under the blanket to avoid accidents or suffocation hazards. Do not force an unwilling cat under a blanket. Ensure the blanket fibers do not present a choking risk and remove damaged or loose threads promptly. Talk to your vet if your cat shows signs of overheating like panting.

When to See the Vet

Cats that appear lethargic, are not eating, or exhibit other signs of illness may need medical attention if they seem overly cold. Elderly cats and kittens are also more vulnerable to the effects of cold than adult cats.

Signs that your cat may need to see a vet include:

  • Lethargy or weakness – Your cat seems overly tired and inactive
  • Not eating – Your cat has lost interest in food
  • Pale gums or ears – This can indicate poor circulation
  • Shivering – Constant shivering may be a sign your cat is too cold
  • Whimpering or distressed vocalizations – Your cat seems uncomfortable
  • Diarrhea – This can be brought on by stress from the cold

If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms along with feeling cold, schedule a veterinarian visit right away. Proper medical care can help get your cat healthy again and prevent lasting effects from the cold.

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