Is it particularly cold where you are, or is your house notoriously cold? Perhaps you’re cat stays outside during the night; free to roam the neighborhood under the night sky. Either way, are you concerned that your cat could be too cold. Well, I am going to clearing this up by answering those questions you likely have here today.
So, do cats get cold at night? Cats can get cold at night if the ambient temperature drops below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). The ideal body temperature for cats is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F (38.1 to 39.2 degrees C). Temperatures below 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C) are too cold for most cats at night.
There are of course circumstances to consider here, and not all cats will respond to colder temperatures in the same way.
So let us delve into those factors you can ascertain how your cat will respond to cooler temperatures.
Then we will look at some proactive measures you can take to ensure they remain warm enough.
So keep reading!
Do Cats Feel Cold Outside At Night?
Any cat can feel cold outside at night. While all cats will feel cold below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C), some will be more sensitive to chilly temperatures than others. Temperature tolerance depends on breed as well as age and overall health.
Temperature Tolerance At Night And Cat Breeds
Thin cats with short hair are obviously going to get cold more easily at night than long-haired cats with more body fat. If your cat is hairless or has short hair, you will need to take extra precautions.
Some cat breeds can withstand the cold a bit better than their counterparts. This doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t get cold.
If you have one of the cat breeds listed below, your cat may not be as sensitive to the cold as other breeds, but you will need to watch her in cold weather to make sure she’s comfortable.
Cat breeds with extra protection from the cold include:
- American Bobtails. These cats have a double coat which protects them well from the cold.
- Maine Coons. Maine Coons have thick coats as well as wide paws to help them walk on snow without sinking.
- Balinese. Balinese are gorgeous long-haired Siamese cats who don’t have a double coat but do have long hair to protect them somewhat better from the cold.
- Himalayans. Himalayans are ideally suited for long, cold winter months with their thick dual-layered coats. Their skin also produces lots of oil which keeps water from freezing on their bodies.
- Chartreux. Chartreux cats have a double coat that’s water-resistant, making them perfectly suited to cold climates.
- Manx. Manx cats have long legs that keep their bodies off the ground, although their thick double coat goes all around their body to protect them even on the cold ground.
- Exotic Shorthairs. These cats are a cross between American Shorthairs and Persians.
- Russian Blues. Russian Blues originate from Russia, so it’s no surprise that they are built to withstand the cold with their double coats, including a coarse outer layer of hair to help keep moisture away from their body.
- British Longhairs. These fluffy beauties have a double coat and a fluffy outer coat of fur.
- Cymrics (or Longhair Manx) have thick double coats, too.
- Scottish Folds. Scottish Folds have very thick fur around their extremities, which helps keep them warm.
- Norwegian Forest Cats. These cats have very thick coats of fur, with a waterproof outer layer.
- Persians. Persians also have thick fur for cold protection.
- Ragdolls. Ragdolls don’t have a double coat, but they do have long fur.
- Siberians. Siberians have the best cold protection: a triple coat of fur. Their outer coat is water-resistant, even in heavy rain and snow.
Temperature Tolerance At Night And Age Or Overall Health
Other factors determine how well your cat can tolerate the cold at night (or any other time of day).
Age Of Your Cat
If your cat is a young kitten, she won’t be able to regulate her body temperature as effectively as an adult cat can.
Kittens only start to be able to adjust to the ambient temperature at around 5 weeks of age.
Older cats can also struggle with the cold because their body systems slow down as they age.
Senior cats won’t be able to regulate their body temperature as well as they could when they were younger.
Overall Health Of Your Cat
If your cat has extra body fat, he’ll be more likely to tolerate cold weather. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s acceptable for a cat to be obese.
Obese cats have a higher risk of diabetes and other health conditions.
In addition, most cats who spend time outside know when it’s time to go indoors. But obese cats move more slowly than slimmer cats, so they are more likely to get caught in the cold.
Some other health conditions aside from obesity can make it more difficult for cats in the cold. Health conditions that make it more difficult for cats to regulate their body temperature (making them more susceptible to hypothermia) include:
- Hyperthyroidism and other endocrine diseases (these cats are extra-sensitive to the cold)
- Heart disease
- Renal disease
If your cat suffers with any of the above conditions, he should not be allowed outdoors in any weather.
How Warm Do Cats Need To Be At Night?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends an ambient temperature above 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) and not above 80 degrees F (26.6 degrees C). No pet should be kept for long periods outside in freezing weather.
Your cat’s body temperature is normally between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F (38.1 to 39.2 degrees C).
If your cat’s body temperature drops below 99 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), she is losing more heat than she can generate and is at risk of hypothermia.
Hypothermia can happen if your cat has spent a long period of time in a cold or wet environment.
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Cold, clammy skin
- Dilated pupils
- Colder extremities than normal (ears, tail, nose)
- Breathing more slowly than usual
- Moving sluggishly or with a lack of control
- Lethargy or not responding as she normally would to stimulation
If you suspect hypothermia:
- Call your vet immediately
- Bring your cat to a warmer area
- Take your cat’s temperature (use a rectal thermometer)
- If your cat is wet, dry her off with a towel so that she doesn’t lose more body heat. You can warm a towel quickly in the tumble dryer, if you wish, but don’t apply towels that are too hot
- Provide extra warmth for your cat, but don’t apply heat directly or too quickly (e.g., don’t use a heating pad or blow hot air directly onto her). You want to avoid her going into shock
- If your cat is responsive enough to swallow, try offering a small amount of honey or Karo syrup to raise her blood sugar (some cats with hypothermia have low blood sugar)
- Get your cat to the vet asap for further care and evaluation
Hypothermia can have serious health consequences, so treat it as an emergency.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is Cold At Night?
There are several ways you can tell if your cat is cold at night, including shivering, hunching down close to the ground, puffing up their fur, and seeking warmer places. Cats’ extremities can also feel cooler to the touch. Generally speaking, though, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your cat.
If your cat is shivering, she’s either cold, in pain, anxious, or ill. Watch for additional signs such as panting (a sign of pain or stress or having a fever if she isn’t eating or grooming herself).
Cats will shiver when cold just like people do: shivering is an instinctive reaction to try to warm up the body’s muscles.
Puffing Her Fur and Hunching Down
Some cats when cold may puff up their fur – you may have seen your cat puff up her fur when she’s facing a perceived threat.
In this instance, she’s trying to make herself appear bigger and more of a threat to her ‘enemy’. Cats will usually pull themselves up to their full height, as well.
If, however, she’s puffed up her fur and is hunching down close to the ground, it could be a sign that she’s cold.
Looking For A Warmer Place
Your cat may appear to be seeking warmth from a radiator, a heated vent, or a sunny spot. Some cats will burrow under your covers or look to curl up on your lap.
Many cats will want to snuggle up to you whether they’re cold or not, so the key here is to look for changes in behavior. If your cat doesn’t normally snuggle up to you, she may be seeking warmth.
Your cat’s extremities may feel colder to the touch than usual. Feel the tips of her ears, her nose, or her tail. Are they cooler than normal? If so, she is likely feeling the cold.
How To Ensure Your Cat Is At The Right Temperature At Night
You can do many things to ensure your cat is at the right temperature at night, from using sweaters and blankets to providing the right kind of bedding. You can also provide shelter for any feral cats who are outdoors 24/7.
Caring For Indoor Cats At Night
Offer A Sweater
Sweaters are particularly helpful for hairless cats or cats who have been shaved down or groomed to cut their hair beyond a small trim.
Even if they’re indoors all day, a sweater can be needed to help keep them warm if they don’t have a thick fur coat.
If your cat likes playing dress-up, she may tolerate a sweater.
Positive reinforcement using cat treats can help her change her mind if she’s unsure!
Be sure to choose fabrics that aren’t itchy against her skin.
Raise Her Bed
Beds that are raised from the floor can provide better protection from the cold, as the air beneath acts as a protective layer.
Heat rises, so a bed up high will feel warmer to your kitty.
Provide Comfortable Blankets
You can put soft blankets on your cat’s favorite spots to sleep.
If you know your cat’s bedtime, you can warm the blanket gently in the tumble dryer first for extra snuggly warmth.
You can also put a blanket down on a windowsill or in another sunny spot.
Try A Heated Bed
Heated beds specially made for cats can be a good solution because they can provide warmth while protecting a cat’s sensitive skin (which burns easily).
Heated beds have a very low wattage for safety, and they are excellent for cats with mobility issues or joint pain, as the warmth can help them feel comfier.
Get An Insulated Bed
Some cat beds are self-warming, as they have a layer of insulation (such as polyester) that uses your cat’s body heat to retain warmth.
Play With Them
Getting your cat’s blood going with a fun play session can help her stay warm.
Laser toys, feather wands, or catnip mice are all excellent options – rotate them for best results.
Provide Extra Calories
You may wish to feed your cat a bit more in cold weather, as the extra calories will help her keep warm.
Leave The Heating On When You Are Out
If your cat is indoors all day while you’re out, leave the heating on for her, if you can.
Caring For Outdoor or Feral Cats In The Cold
If you are caring for outdoor cats – perhaps feral cats in your area – you can help keep them warm by:
- Providing a shelter with a roof to protect from the elements (rain, wind, snow)
- Placing a layer of straw or some mylar blankets in the shelter for added warmth. Unlike standard blankets, mylar blankets won’t retain humidity
- Placing food and water near or inside the shelter. The extra calories will help these cats stay warm. Keep an eye on the water to make sure it doesn’t freeze
Note: Don’t be tempted to use heat pads, as these can quickly burn a cat’s skin (which is thin and sensitive).
Cats can, and some do certainly, get cold at night.
Of course, this is more likely for cats who spend the night outside, or if they are a certain breed or health status.
Then you have those external factors too, such as season, weather etc.
So, you do absolutely need to be mindful of your cat when the temperature falls.
And remember; anything under 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C) are too cold for most cats at night.
That’s when they are most at risk and you need to be particularly careful/mindful.
- Can Cats Freeze To Death?
- What Temperature Is Too Hot For Cats?
- Should I Leave Water Out For My Cat At Night?
- Can I Leave Wet Cat Food Out Overnight?
- Can Cats Have Night Terrors?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.