Do Cats Get Cold Indoors?

As energy prices continue to climb a lot of us have been forced to cut back on our heating. Its uncomfortable for human members of the household but we normally have the option to put on more clothes. You may have wondered how your cats have been affected by colder temperatures. Indoor cats can get cold and will become uncomfortable and unhappy. Your cat’s internal body temperature should remain around 100°F (37.8°C). This doesn’t mean that your room needs to be the same temperature. Cats, like us, produce their own body heat through their metabolism.

Its rare, unheard of really, for indoor cats to freeze at home. Cats will be able to tolerate temperatures as low as freezing for a short period of time. To be safe, temperatures need to be above 45°F (7.2°C). Having shelter from wind and rain means that even if it is chilly at home, your cat will be able to hunker down and be safe.

The real question then is your cat’s comfort in colder temperature. Some cats find lower temperatures uncomfortable. All cats are different, and some prefer different temperatures. We’ve had cats that will sunbathe until they become hot to the touch and others that have loved to explore the inside of our freezers. You need to know how to keep an eye on your cat’s comfort to be able to make sure they are enjoying their time indoors.

How can I tell if my cat is cold?

Its difficult to guess if your cat is cold by feeling them. Their bodies are insulated in fur and their resting body temperature isn’t noticeably different to ours through touch. Some newer microchips have built in thermometers in them, but you will need specialist equipment to read this. Vets will usually use a rectal thermometer which usually you really shouldn’t attempt to use at home if you aren’t a trained vet. This is all to say that reading your cats actual temperature is quite difficult. Instead, its easier for you to keep an eye on their behaviour to see if they are uncomfortable.

The most obvious sign of your cat being uncomfortably cold is if they keep seeking out warmer positions in the house. If they avoid their usual spaces by the window in favour of a corner, they may appreciate the heating being turned up a couple of degrees.

Cold cats will also make their bodies smaller to conserve heat or bundle up with other cats in the house. They can do this by curling up into a ball or hunching down onto the floor. To be fair these are fairly normal positions for a cat to rest in. It may be easier to tell if they are cold from what they aren’t doing. If your cat sometimes rests on their side with their tummy to the side they will stop resting in the position if they are chilly. Indoor cats could also puff up their fur when they feel the chill. They do this to trap more air around them to insulate themselves.

Cats can also shiver just like humans do when they are particularly cold. This is a natural response from their body to make more heat by moving their body. Cats who shiver will be particularly uncomfortable and you may need to give them special attention to stay warm. You should be concerned if your cat is trembling and it doesn’t seem cold or if they haven’t shown any other signs of being cold. Unfortunately, shivering is also a symptom of a range of serious diseases. If your cat is continuously shivering you should book an appointment with the vet to make sure there are no medical reasons.

Signs that your cat is cold

  • Seeking warmer spaces, avoiding draughty areas.
  • Shrinking their bodies by curling up off of the ground.
  • Puffing up their fur to conserve more heat.
  • Shivering, although this could also be caused by many medical reasons.

Is my home too cold for my cat?

When the temperature changes slowly through the seasons cats can normally deal with the gradual change in temperature. Like how we would bring out our winter clothes, cats will begin to grow their winter coat. Even indoor cats will grow a winter coat naturally through the year. A cat’s winter coat is a bit thicker than their summer coat and may be a bit longer giving them a slightly puffier look. This change is more noticeable in long hair breeds. This extra fur is normally enough protection to keep them warm in winter. If you are comfortable at home with a sweater on your cat should be okay too.

Vets have said that 45°F (°)is generally the lowest temperature their cat can be okay in. They are more comfortable at 70°F (21°C) but can cope with temperatures lower than this. We would normally only be concerned about our cat being too cold if your heating went out. If this happens make sure to give them extra blankets to snuggle up in. You could also throw a hot water bottle in under a blanket if they show interest in it. If your cat has pica make sure they don’t chew through the bottle and make a mess.

As with most things with cats, they can tolerate gradual changes but not sudden ones. If the temperature in your home has suddenly dropped due to a cold snap or some other freak weather, your cat may be upset with the sudden change in temperature even if it isn’t too cold. If you are still reasonaly comfortable, its more likely that they are upset about the change than they are about the cold. There are still steps you can take however to make them more comfortable in the new climate.  

How can I stop my cat being cold indoors?

We understand if you aren’t ready to spend the extra money on heating throughout the day just for your cat. Luckily, there are some easier ways to make your cat toast warm at home for cheap.

Begin by making sure that the usual spaces they lounge about aren’t under any draughts or cold spots in the house. Air vents, doors, and windows are all areas where cold air can get inside of your home. You could consider insulating theses with air barriers to also save yourself some money on your next heating bill. Get down on the floor to see if you can feel any draughts at the same level your cat explores the house on.

Some cat beds are designed to hang over radiators to give your indoor cat a comfy position to soak up your heating from. Heated cat beds are a more luxurious option and cost money to run but if your cat enjoys the warm it could be a good source of happiness for them. Beds that have a lid or tepee cat beds are good because they trap in your cat’s warmth and also provide a hiding space for them to feel more comfortable in.

Floors are normally a source for drawing heat away from your cat. If you don’t have a cat bed you can add a simple layer of cardboard for your cat to sit on top of to be separated from the heat a little bit. We have found that our cats sometimes prefer old piles of cardboard to their expensive cat beds.

Do cats need blankets to stay warm?

In our experience, cats generally avoid getting underneath blankets to stay warm. That being said we’ve also heard of cats that love to hide under the bed sheets next to their owners. This is a safe thing for your cat to do. Blankets and duvets should be breathable enough for your cat to get oxygen through and if they do get uncomfortable, they should be able to find their own way out.

Aside from the warmth, blankets are really important to cats as they let them soak their scent into them and feel more comfortable around the house. They aren’t a necessity but they are a cheap way to make your cat feel happier about the space they live in.

Do hairless indoor cats get colder?

Hairless indoor cats such as the Pphynx will have a tougher time staying warm as they don’t have the natural insulation fur gives. If your hairless cat seems too old to explore the house outside of the pockets of warmth you have created, you could consider training them to wear some cat clothing to stay warm. Not all cats will take to this, wearing clothes is very unnatural for a cat and they may never grow accustomed to it.