You love your furry friend, and want to do your best to keep your cat comfortable. This includes making sure their environment is a comfortable temperature.
Safety is also a concern, because temperatures that are too hot or too cold can be dangerous for your cat.
Do cats prefer hot or cold weather?
Cats can live in a wide range of climates, and are found on every continent but Antarctica. Tigers are an excellent example of a cat’s adaptability. They can be found in tropical jungles, and even the frigid mountains of Northern Russia.
Of course, just because cats can survive in these climates doesn’t mean they prefer them. Do cats enjoy the summer, or do they long for winter?
Cat Body Temperature
Cats have a slightly higher body temperature than humans. Their resting temperature is 100.5 to 102.5. These temps are considered a fever in humans, who have a resting temperature of 98 degrees.
If a cat’s temperature drops into the 90s, it has hypothermia. For humans, a temperature below 95 is considered hypothermia.
Because they have a higher body temperature, they are comfortable in a warmer environment than humans.
Have you noticed your cat has a few favorite nap spots in the house? Perhaps it’s on top of your computer, or behind the TV. Maybe it’s a shaft of light that streams through a window.
What do all these areas have in common? They give off extra warmth. It’s a cat’s equivalent of cuddling up with an electric blanket. In fact, provide a cat with an electric blanket or heating pad, and you’ve made a friend for life.
Some cats evolved or were bred for colder climates, while others are designed for warmer locales. Breed plays a big role in whether your cat will prefer hot or cold temperatures.
The biggest clue to which your cat will prefer is their coat. Long-haired cats, including Persians and Himalyans, have warm thick coats that are well suited for cold weather. They will be comfortable in cold weather, and get too hot faster than short-haired cats.
On the other end of the spectrum, are the short-haired breeds. Bengel cats, for example, love tropical temperatures. They are born to live in warm areas, and won’t tolerate the cold as well as long-haired cats, like Himalyans.
There are many cats who aren’t a specific breed. They can fall on either end of the spectrum, or the middle.
Just like humans, bigger cats have an easier time staying warm. Fat helps trap body heat. This means that larger or overweight cats will tolerate cold better than lean cats.
Very young or old cats are not as good at regulating their body temperature as adult cats. Young kittens need a heat source until they are 4 weeks old. This heat source is typically their mother, who they spend much of their time snuggled up to.
Older kittens can’t tolerate very cold temperatures, or very hot ones. Once a cat is 6 months old, they can tolerate a wider range of temperatures.
Elderly cats also require more comfortable temperatures. Like their young counterparts, they do not regulate their temperatures as well as adult cats.
Cats who are sick or have health issues do better in a warmer environment, but not too hot. Keeping the temperature comfortable allows their body to focus its energy on healing, rather than keeping their body temperature stable.
Which Season Do Cats Love the Most?
It’s difficult to say for certain, because we can’t ask our cats what temperature they like. However, cats seem to prefer warmth to cold. It’s likely they prefer summer to winter.
However, cats, like most people, are happier with moderate temperatures. They will be uncomfortable in temps that are too hot, or too cold.
What temperature do cats like?
Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, your cat probably is as well. However, as mentioned above, they do prefer things a bit warmer than humans. It’s also important to know what affects your cat’s temperature preference and adaptability.
Cat Thermostat Preferences
Your cat will be most comfortable with the thermostat set between 65-75 degrees. Experts say to aim for a temperature of around 70 degrees year round. However, a cat should be fine with a temp from 60-80 degrees.
Cats grow a thicker coat in winter, and shed it for a lighter coat in the summer. Imagine being in your home with your coat on, vs. wearing shorts and a tank top. The temperature you are most comfortable with will change by several degrees, based on your clothing.
80 degrees may be too warm for a cat in the winter. 60 degrees can cause them to feel cold in the summer.
How hot is too hot for a cat?
Cats don’t sweat the same way we do. However, they are capable of tolerating fairly high temperatures very well. You should keep a close eye on your cat if the temperature gets above 90 degrees. If a cat’s body temperature rises to 105, they can have a heat stroke.
How do Cats Cool Off
One way cats cool off is through their paws. They actually sweat from their paws. This method works well when temperatures aren’t too high. In the height of summer, they also need other ways to cool down.
Cats will lick their coat to stay cool as well. This works similar to the way we sweat. The moisture on our bodies helps to cool us. The moisture on your cat’s coat from licking also has a cooling effect.
They also cool themselves by panting, just as a dog does. As the saliva on their tongue evaporates, it also cools them.
Signs of Heat Stroke
If the temperature is too high, your cat can get heat stroke. The symptoms are similar to those a human would experience.
The first signs of heat stroke are often panting and heavy breathing. You may also notice that your cat’s paws are wet, because they are sweating.
If they continue to overheat, they will become lethargic. Their tongue and mouth will become red. They will lose their appetite, and may begin vomiting. They may become disoriented.
Severe heat stroke can cause loss of consciousness, and even death.
Taking Your Cat’s Temperature
If you are concerned your cat has heat stroke, the best way to confirm this is by taking their temperature. You can do this with an ear thermometer designed for human use. Just stick the tip into their ear canal. You may need someone to hold the cat while you do this, as most cats don’t appreciate anything near their ears.
If their temperature is elevated, particularly if it’s 104 or above, they may be experiencing heat stroke.
Dehydration is also a concern for cats, particularly when it’s hot outside. In the wild, cats get most of their water from their food. A cat eating dry or even wet cat food will not receive the same hydration as a cat eating wild prey. As a result, their thirst mechanism isn’t strong enough to keep them properly hydrated.
A common sign of dehydration is pale, dry, or sticky mouth and gums. You can also perform a skin test to see if your cat is dehydrated. Pull a small section of skin near their shoulder blades up gently with your fingers.
If it immediately snaps back into place, your cat is hydrated. If it doesn’t, your cat is dehydrated.
Keeping Your Kitty Safe in Summer
When your cat is outside during the summertime, be sure they have access to clean water at all times. They should also have access to shade. This will help them regulate their temperature.
Don’t leave your cat outside unattended in extremely hot weather over 90 degrees. If they experience heat stroke, they may not be able to get themselves back inside.
Never leave your cat unattended in a vehicle, because temperatures can quickly rise high enough to be fatal.
If your cat appears too hot, get them inside or into the shade. Offer them cool water. You can also put their paws in cool water to help them cool down faster.
How cold is too cold for a cat?
Outdoor cats can survive at temperatures below freezing, as long as they have access to food, water, and shelter.
Indoor cats should not be left outside in temperatures lower than 45 degrees. This is a general guideline, however.
If it’s a 60 degree day with a low of 40, your indoor cat will be ok outside. If it’s 45 degrees and raining, it’s best to bring them in. Wind chill should also be considered. Just like humans, wind chill can cause your cat to feel colder. It also increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
Risks of Cold Weather
The biggest risks to a cat in cold weather are hypothermia and frostbite. Cold causes the blood vessels to constrict. This reduces circulation. Extremities are typically colder than the rest of the body, because it takes longer for warm blood to get to these areas.
When circulation is restricted due to cold weather, the extremities are highly susceptible to the cold. Frostbite typically occurs on the ears, tail, nose, and paws for this reason.
Cats, and humans bodies have adapted to doing this for good reason. It allows the body to conserve its heat, and focus it on the vital organs. Risking the extremities makes sense to keep the heart, lungs, and brain functioning.
Hypothermia is the other risk to cats when the weather is cold. If a cat’s temperature falls into the 90s, it’s experiencing hypothermia. This means its core body temperature is too low.
The central nervous system slows down during hypothermia. Humans with the condition often talk about just wanting to sleep, or even feeling warm. This is due to the cold’s effect on the nervous system.
Hypothermia affects the brain, making it difficult to think clearly. This is one of the reasons cats, and even humans, ultimately die from it. They lose the ability to think logically to find shelter.
Signs Your Cat is Too Cold
The signs of frostbite and hypothermia are important to know. Even if your cat isn’t outside for a long period of time, it’s possible for them to get too cold.
If your cat is pale, shivering, or lethargic, they may have hypothermia. You’ll need to bring them in and warm them up immediately. Wrap them in blankets or towels from the dryer to warm them, or place hot water bottles around the cover.
Shivering can also be a sign of frostbite. Your cat’s skin will be pale blue or gray if they have frostbite. The area may be numb, or painful to the touch.
If your cat gets frostbite, you’ll need to warm them up slowly. First, warm their body as you would for hypothermia. Then place the affected area in warm water. If this isn’t possible, place a rag in warm water, and then put it on the area. Place it back into the warm water when it begins to get cool, and then reapply.
Once your cat is stable, you’ll need to take them to the vet for evaluation and further treatment if needed.
Keeping Your Cat Safe in Winter
The easiest way to keep your cat safe in winter is not to allow them outside. However, many cats love, and even need, time outside.
Many owners purchase winter coats or sweaters for their cat. This can help keep them warm, just as your coat does for you. Just remember that it’s not a substitute for keeping an eye on them, and bringing them in when they get cold.
You can also get booties for your cat. These help protect against frostbite. They are particularly useful when the ground is wet from rain or snow.
In addition to winter gear, monitor your cat when they are outside. If their ears, paw, or tail become cold to the touch, it’s time to bring them in. You should also bring them in if they start shivering or act lethargic.