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How to keep your cat warm in cold weather

How to keep your cat warm in cold weather

The weather has taken a steep dive and many of us have snow in the UK, so you may notice your cats have been spending more time curled up next to the radiator or in the laundry basket (ehem!). 

While you may adjust the temperature of your home to ensure the comfort of yourself and your family, you may not consider the impact of the cold on your cat. You might assume that if you're comfortable, then your feline companion is also comfortable, right?

In this blog we look at what the optimum temperatures are for cats, how to ensure they are comfortable during cold spells and understand how their fur helps keeps them warm.

What is a cat’s normal body temperature?

While a human's body temperature is usually around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a cat's ideal body temperature is approximately 38.6 degrees Celsius (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit). In fact, the normal temperature range for cats is between 37.5 to 39.1 degrees Celsius (99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

Due to their higher core temperature, cats can tolerate slightly higher external temperatures than humans can, resulting in more comfort during summer heat. However, they may feel significantly colder during the winter, particularly if you decrease your heating to save money.

Fortunately, cats are incredibly adept at regulating their own body temperature. They also develop a habit of snuggling into the most comfortable areas of the house year-round, such as curling up in small spaces like boxes, under beds, or even in sinks, which aids in maintaining a constant body temperature as external temperatures fluctuate.

Do cats prefer warm weather or cold weather?

Cats are naturally adapted to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, and their preferences may vary depending on the individual cat's coat type, age, and health. However, in general, cats tend to prefer warmer weather to colder weather.

Cats’ bodies are designed to retain heat. They have a higher metabolism than humans and generate more heat, which allows them to stay warm in colder temperatures. However, they also have a limited ability to sweat and regulate their body temperature, so they can overheat in hot weather.

Does a cat’s fur keep them warm? 

A cat's fur is made up of two types of hair: guard hairs and undercoat. The guard hairs are the longer, coarser hairs that provide protection from the elements, while the undercoat is softer and denser, providing insulation.

The insulating properties of a cat's fur are due to the layer of air that is trapped between the guard hairs and the undercoat. This layer of air acts as a barrier, reducing heat loss from the cat's body and helping to maintain their body temperature.

In cold weather, a cat's fur will stand on end, creating a fluffier appearance. This is known as piloerection or "puffing up" and helps to increase the amount of air trapped between the hairs, providing even more insulation.

Additionally, a cat's skin contains special oil-producing glands that secrete oils that help to waterproof and insulate their fur. These oils help to keep a cat's fur fluffy, which in turn traps more air and provides better insulation.

Overall, a cat's fur is a remarkable adaptation that allows them to stay warm in colder temperatures. However, it's important to remember that even with their fur, cats can still get cold, especially if they are exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods of time.

How can I make sure my cat is comfortable during the cold winter months?

There are several things you can do to ensure your cat is comfortable during the cold winter months:

  1. Keep your home warm: Make sure the temperature inside your home is comfortable for your cat. If you feel cold, chances are your cat does too.
  2. Provide a cosy sleeping area: Provide a cosy and warm sleeping area for your cat. This could be a cat bed, a cardboard box lined with blankets or a cosy blanket in a warm corner of your home.
  3. Keep your cat hydrated: Make sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times. In colder months, cats may not drink as much water, so make sure to monitor their water intake.
  4. Provide additional food: During the winter months, cats need more energy to keep themselves warm. Providing additional food can help your cat maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Groom your cat regularly: Keep your cat's coat clean and well-groomed. A clean and well-groomed coat can help keep your cat warm during the colder months.
  6. Consider using a heated cat bed: A heated cat bed can provide additional warmth for your cat. Make sure to choose a bed with a low heat setting and to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Limit outdoor time: If your cat enjoys going outside, limit their time outdoors during the winter months. Cats can get frostbite and hypothermia just like humans, so make sure to keep an eye on them.

Can cats go outside when it's snowing?

Cats can generally cope with snow, but it's important to take some precautions to ensure their safety and comfort. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Provide shelter: If your cat spends time outdoors, make sure they have access to a warm, dry shelter. This can be a heated outdoor shelter or a covered area that provides protection from the elements.
  2. Monitor their behaviour: Keep an eye on your cat's behaviour when they're outside in the snow. If they seem uncomfortable or are shivering, it's time to bring them inside.
  3. Protect their paws: Snow and ice can be rough on a cat's paws, so it's important to protect them. Consider getting your cat booties or paw wax to protect their paws from the cold and prevent ice and snow from getting stuck between their toes.
  4. Keep them hydrated: It's important for cats to stay hydrated, even in colder weather. Make sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times.
  5. Watch out for antifreeze: Antifreeze is toxic to cats and other animals, so be sure to keep it out of reach and clean up any spills immediately.

In summary, cat's are great at regulating their own body temperatures and making sure they keep warm. However, there are small things you can do mentioned in this blog post to help them stay warm during extreme temperatures. 

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