Can Cats Survive In The Cold


Cats are mostly kept indoors but some are allowed to roam outside. It’s okay to give your cat some outside time, however, when winter comes, the temperatures may be too cold for the cat.

If you are a pet owner that allows the cat to go outside unsupervised, you may be worried about the cat being out in the cold for too long. Can cats survive in the cold? How cold is too cold for cats?

These are questions that we are going to answer today.

Cats can survive in cold temperatures quite well. Because of their fur they can handle cold temperatures as long as it’s not below freezing. Cats are resourceful, so they have no trouble finding a shelter during extremely cold temperatures.

How Do Cats Handle Cold Temperatures

How Do Cats Handle Cold Temperatures

First of all, let’s talk about cats being outside in normal cold temperatures. This is something cats survive without a problem. Do you have feral cats in your area? If so, you can see them surviving cold winters.

They don’t go through winters alone though. Even though stray cats don’t have owners, they still rely on humans to survive. Cold temperatures are not exactly comfortable for cats. They can handle it as long as there’s an easy way to get food and find shelter.

Well, humans provide that. So, cats can handle cold temperatures if there is a human community nearby. That’s why community cats and indoor cats that are allowed outside can survive in the cold.

How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside

During the cold months, the weather changes a lot. In comparison to most of the winter months, we get some colder weather days. The temperature can really drop during these days. This begs the question: What temperatures are too cold for a cat?

This question doesn’t really have a straightforward answer. We have to take into account the age and health of the cat. Also, how thick of a fur it has, some breeds do not have that much fur.

The normal body temperature of a cat is 101.0 to 102.5 Fahrenheit. Cats are most comfortable in rooms with a temperature of 75 to 78 Fahrenheit. They can tolerate lower temperatures though. Cats can stay in a room with a temperature of 50-60 Fahrenheit. They may not be comfortable but they can handle it.[Source ]

When it comes to the outside, cats can handle temperatures around 45 Fahrenheit. Strong, agile cats with nearby adequate shelter can maybe endure even lower temperatures. Elderly cats and sick cats can’t stay long in the cold.

Cats have trouble with below-freezing temperatures. When it’s freezing, cats can get hypothermia. If a cat’s body temperature dips below 100 F it is suffering from hypothermia. The body organs slow down, in some situations, this leads to death.

Hypothermia is not serious or fatal if it’s treated fast. So, if you notice your cat or stray cat with hypothermia, immediately visit a pet. [ Source ]

Keep in mind, a cat has to be out in the cold for a long time before it gets hypothermia. Cats heat up their body temperature during cold weather by eating wet food and seeking out shelter. The cats that have problems with cold weather are elderly cats and cats with hypothyroidism.

What Temperatures Do Cats Like

What Temperatures Do Cats Like

As you can see, when it comes to the cold, I’m saying that the cats can handle it or tolerate it. I’m not saying they are comfortable. The thing is, there is an ideal temperature for cats where they feel comfy.

Cats like a certain sense of warmth but not too much. Most probably, the room temperature you feel fine at, the cat feels fine at too. But if you are looking to set up the AC or heating unit to please the cat, you should go from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. [ Source ]

Honestly, any temperature from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit should be comfy for your cat. They can even handle room temperatures of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The key here is to give your cats several resting positions through the room. Have a place that it can warm up in, maybe something with a blanket or a self-warming cat bed. Offer a place where it can cool down as well.

My advice is to test how your cat reacts to certain temperatures. If you notice your cat curling up somewhere warm, it’s cold. If you see it laying comfortably, it likes the room temperature.

How To Keep Cats Warm Outside

My guess is that some of you don’t want to limit your cat indoors during the winter. Or, you just want to keep some community cats warm and healthy. With good shelter, a cat can survive even the worst frigid temperatures. Here are some tips on how to keep cats warm outside.

  • Get/build an outdoor cat shelter.
    It’s very important for the cat to have a place that it can come back to when it’s too cold. Cats will roam as long as they have energy. They come back to their home to take a rest and fill up. So, you can get an outside shelter for your cat. Or, if you are creative and have the expertise, build a shelter. If the shelter is fleece-lined, it will keep the cat warm.
  • Feed with wet food. 
    Dry food takes too much energy to burn. So, during cold weather, it’s best to give your outside cat wet food. Wet food is dissolved easily, so the cat doesn’t waste any energy on that. This is a great trick to know, especially for community cats. You have to make sure that the food does not freeze. Put the food bowls somewhere warm or serve food water when the kitty usually comes by.
  • Keep a regular supply of freshwater. 
    Water is another way to preserve your cat’s energy. So, a good thing to do is always have fresh water for your cat. Make sure to regularly change the water bowls. Cats don’t drink that much water so there’s a high chance the water will freeze.
  • Use heating pads.
    Electric heating pads are a great way to quickly warm up your cat. You can place these in the shelter when the cats are not roaming. If you are keeping the cat indoors, heat up the pads as soon as it comes back home.
  • Use deeper bowls. 
    You can also try using deeper bowls so the water and the food do not freeze that quickly.
  • Give out extra cat food. 
    Cats can always use the extra energy during the winter, so reward them with extra food, more than you usually give.
[Related Article: How To Keep Cats Warm In Garage – 9 Useful Tips You Can Use]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Can Cats Die In The Cold

Although cats are quite resistant to the cold, and they are quite resourceful, long exposures to cold temperatures can be fatal. Below-freezing temperatures can cause hypothermia and frostbite which can lead to death.

Can Cats Stay Out All Night In The Cold

It’s not recommended that you allow your cat to stay out all night during the winter. The temperatures can drop below 32 Fahrenheit, and the cat may get hypothermia if it doesn’t find a shelter. Cats shouldn’t be out all night in the cold. However, the cat will survive one night like that if you are not able to find it.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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