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How to take care of your indoor cat in the winter so they don’t get too cold

When you head to bed at night or leave the house for the day, it’s natural to want to turn down the heat so you can save energy. While dropping the temperature to 60 or even 55 degrees Fahrenheit is common, will your cat be comfortable in those lower temps? Cats love warm and cozy spaces, so before you start fiddling with the heat, you’ll want to understand what safe temperatures for indoor cats are best for their health and comfort. In addition to keeping your home warm, there are many ways you can support your cat’s needs through the long winter.

Grey cat sleeping on a couch in front of a radiator

What indoor temperature is too cold for cats?

While your cat may have a furry coat, that doesn’t mean he can withstand harsh temperatures. The Rescue Vets explain that cats need to keep their body temperatures at 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or they could develop hypothermia.

As a result, a safe temperature for cats indoors starts at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that just because that temperature is safe doesn’t mean that your cat will be comfortable. Instead, most cats will find 70 degrees a much more enjoyable temperature.

How can you tell that your cat may be too cold?

Setting your thermostat to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a good way to ensure your cat stays warm, but it can also be helpful to look for signs your cat is too cold and therefore uncomfortable. The Rescue Vets note that when your cat feels cold, you might notice him curling up more tightly than usual or snuggling up next to you more than he typically would.

If your cat has been exposed to particularly low temperatures—for example, if he’s been outside—you might notice additional signs like shivering. Your cat’s paws, ears, and tail might feel cold to the touch, and his pupils might be dilated. A cat who is too cold might exhibit slow, shallow breathing and appear weak or lethargic.

If you notice any of these more severe signs in your cat, he needs immediate veterinary treatment. Take your cat to your vet or local emergency clinic to be treated right away.

Orange cat sleeping on a bed covered by a blanket

What can you do to keep your cat warm and cozy?

One of the best ways to keep your cat warm is to keep your house warm. That said, there are additional techniques you can use to ensure your cat stays cozy all winter long.

Start by checking that your heating system is both accurate and reliable. Consider investing in a thermometer so you can monitor the temperature of each room. If you’re going to be away from home for a long period, ask a friend or neighbor to stop in and make sure your heat stays functional.

If you have zoned heating in your home, pay attention to the rooms where your cat spends the most time. You can set those rooms to a warmer temperature while leaving the rest of the house cooler, letting you save energy (and money) while keeping your cat warm and content.

Make sure you’re feeding your cat a nutritious diet that meets his needs. With the right nutrition, your cat will be able to grow a thick winter coat that can help him to stay warm.

Give your cat a cozy spot to sleep by placing a soft blanket in a warm area of the house, like in a sunny window or by a heater. Always use pet gates or other structures to block off heaters and furnaces, which can create a fire hazard.

You also can invest in a pet bed for your cat. There are many enclosed cat beds that create cozy spots. To keep your cat extra-warm, consider getting a heated cat bed. These beds can be plugged in and create a continuous source of warmth, which is particularly helpful for older cats or for cats dealing with arthritis. Alternatively, consider investing in heating discs you can warm up in the microwave. You can place these discs under your cat’s bed or blanket, but you’ll need to be available to reheat them throughout the day or night.

Don’t worry too much

Most indoor cats do just fine in the winter without extra care, but any cat will appreciate your taking the time to make him an extra warm spot to sleep. Definitely keep an eye on your cat’s behavior during the winter. If you notice him curling up more tightly or seeking out a spot on your lap, you might need to think about turning up the heat in your home or finding other ways to keep your cat warm. If your cat seems to be unusually cold despite a warmer house temperature, consider taking him to the vet to get him checked out.

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