Even though cats are naturally very adaptive animals, they can be vulnerable to develop many dangerous health conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite if they are ever exposed to extremely low temperatures.
Every year winter seems to get a little colder, and many cat owners are stuck worrying and wondering just how cold is too cold for their cats?
So, no matter if you have an indoor cat that loves to cuddle up against you, or an outdoor cat that prefers to chase random critters in the snow, it is crucial to know what to do to protect your feline friend from the harsh temperatures.
Helpful pet site Daily Paws spoke with various vets who explained the warning signs that owners need to keep an eye out for, the temperature at which most cats get cold, and some tips and tricks for keeping your cat warm both inside and outside.
Do cats get cold easily?
According to Michael Arpino, DVM at the Veterinary Wellness Center of Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, New York, most cats can handle colder temperatures pretty well and cats that are used to spending a majority of their time outdoors know when it’s the right time to come back in.
However, you should not leave your outdoor cat in the cold overnight, especially in harsher and more extreme temperature drops. “We definitely wouldn’t advise leaving them outside all night without available shelter from the environment and predators,” Arpino states.
However, indoor cats can get cold too, one way to prevent this is to have a cozy place for them to snuggle up in paired with a warm blanket or an insulated cat bed, according to Zay Satchu, DVM at Bond Vet in New York City.
What temperature is too cold for a cat to handle?
According to Arpino, “As a general rule of thumb, anything below 45 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold. If the temperature dips below freezing, they are at high risk of hypothermia if they are outside for extended periods of time.”
Many factors can make a difference though, such as your cat’s weight and coat, as explained by Arpino, “Hairless cats, cats that have been shaved down and/or groomed in any fashion that would cut the hair beyond a minor trim should never be outside in colder weather.
Some cats with specific preexisting medical conditions are at an increased risk of hypothermia. “Cats who suffer from endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism should never be out in the cold as they are typically cold sensitive. Cats with any illness including renal disease, heart disease, cancer, etc. should not be allowed outdoors in any weather,” as stated by Arpino.
Some signs that your cat is cold
Satchu says, “If your cat is chilly, they may shiver, sit in a hunch position, and/or seek out warm spaces.” At some point, if your cat is left out in the cold for way too long, it can develop hypothermia, and if you notice any of these signs and symptoms of hypothermia in your cat, a trip to the vet is crucial.
Here are the signs of moderate to severe hypothermia, according to Pet MD:
- Mental stupor or confusion
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle stiffness
- Low blood pressure
- Slow heartbeat
- Coma (in the most severe cases)
But how cold is too cold for cats to handle?
The average body temp for a cat is anywhere between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Farenheit, according to VCA Hospitals. According to Arpino, “If they are just cold, they can be brought into a nice warm room, but if they are left outdoors in below 45-degree weather and are hypothermic, they need to be wrapped in a warm towel and rushed to an animal hospital for further care.”
However, the cold temperatures are not the only concern for cats during the harsh winter months, Satchu says that the dry air can also impact cats, so make sure to have readily available fresh water for it to drink. So, by monitoring your cat for any signs of cold, avoiding letting it get more exposure than needed in the cold outside, and keeping your kitty hydrated, you and your pet cat can prosper and keep safe during the cold winter months.