Just like with humans, when a cat gets cold, their immune system becomes less efficient.
It’s not always easy to know when your feline companion is sick or feeling under the weather, and to avoid them getting there in the first place, you need to maintain a good temperature in your home.
How cold is too cold for your cat?
We’re about to break that down, and give you some actionable intel on what you can do to make your home more habitable for them. Your cat has very few needs, but a livable temperature is one of them.
What is the Optimal Temperature for Your Cat?
Ideally, you want your home to be between 60°F and 80°F, keeping the humidity nice and low.
Cats (and dogs) are subject to respiratory issues more so than humans are, which is why this is critical to pay attention to for the health and safety of your pet.
Below 60°F is when it’s too cold to fully support the immune system.
You have to think that your cat is much smaller and thinner than a human, so cold travels through their body much faster, despite them being covered in a layer of hair.
You will run into some breeds of cats that don’t have this problem nearly as often due to thick hair, but even then, below 60°F they will still get cold, just sslower.
How to Know When the Temperature is Too Cold or Too Hot?
If your thermostat isn’t reading the temperatures properly, or you’re just not certain exactly how cold it is in the house (like if you’re wearing multiple layers), there are a few things you can do to identify if your cat is cold.
Their instincts are going to kick in as they search for warmth. Your cat might be cold or is cold if:
- Their Ears are Chilly: Pet your cat on the head, and as your hand grazes down their head, feel for the tips of their ears. Cats are generally warm, mini heat generators, so if their ears are cold, they’re feeling chilly and need to warm up. Think of the tip of your cat’s ears as your fingertips: once they start getting cold, you know you need to warm yourself up.
- They’re Lying Near the Water Heater: Or any hot item in your home, really. If your dryer is throwing heat, they will lay on top of it to keep warm. If your dishwasher is set to dry, they might be on the countertop. You get the idea. If you notice this, check their ears and paws for chill spots. They could just be enjoying the extra warmth, or they could start feeling frigid.
- One Two Tuck: Our cats sleep in weird ways, but if your cat is curling into a ball and tucking their paws beneath their body (it sounds like contortionist moves, but I’ve seen it), they’re probably doing it to preserve body heat. Cats like to sprawl out in comfortable positions, but will sacrifice comfort for warmth if they need to. You might notice odd sleeping positions from now on as an indicator that you need to bump the heat up.
- Constant Contact: Your cat just won’t leave you alone. Their bowls are full, you’ve already played with them, and there’s no other reason you can think of as to why they’re so affectionate right now. Only it’s not affection: they’re trying to stay warm. They’ll brush up against your legs while you’re cooking dinner, or cuddle on your lap in a ball while you’re watching TV. Pet them, touch their paws and ears, and take this constant contact as a future sign that it might be too cold in your home.
Which Breeds Can Tolerate Cold Temperatures the Best?
Some cats are a little more padded for the winter.
There are a few breeds that can withstand just a little more cold, and they are:
- Turkish Angora
- Russian Blue
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest
You’ll notice some geographical names that suggest harsher weather.
Many of the cat breeds that we adopt or purchase in the United States don’t fall into this category, and need that 60°F to 80°F temperature range we discussed earlier.
Tips for Keeping Your Cat Warm and Happy
It’s not easy (or affordable) to maintain a specific house temperature all the time.
Sometimes, it’s easier to leave the thermostat off when you work eight to ten hours a day, and not waste energy while you’re out of the house.
However, we’ve got to keep it nice and comfortable for your little one. Use these tips to keep your home warm even when you’re away.
If you haven’t adopted the IoT devices of the future, it’s time to think about one: the smart thermostat.
You can have an app on your phone—which is with you all the time—that can monitor and change the temperature inside of your home.
If it’s hooked up to a smart thermostat, which is communicated with your smart hub, you can access it from remote locations via your data connection.
You’ll receive notifications if your home falls below a certain temperature, and you can change it on a whim.
At the very least, you can use this for peace of mind by monitoring the temperature during the day.
Nobody wants to come home and find that the heat went out and their cat has been trying to stay warm.
Invest in a Cat Condo
Cat condos are usually made out of faux fur, which has a high heat retention rating.
The more your cat lays on it, the more heat it stores, and it creates a very nice space for your cat to sit and stay toasty.
Cat condos offer small box-like homes with a circular cutout for them to come and go as they please, so eventually, the interior temperature of that little hut may rise with their body temperature.
Alternatively, if you have a cat condo near your central AC vents, your cat can climb to the top of the condo and feel the direct flow of warm air when they need it.
Get a Space Heater
Space heaters have come a long way in recent years.
Your first thought is probably, “My cat will knock it over and I’ll come home to a smoldering wreck,” Space heaters now come with automatic shut-offs if they get tipped over.
You can get one, keep it on in a cat condo corner of your living room, for example, and your cat will be safe even if they knock it over.
Because we’re trying to maintain a specific temperature, it would be best if you could anchor it to the floor with something like some sticky-back velcro, or command strips to ensure it doesn’t move even if your cat tries to push it over.
Does your cat have a window that they sit near all the time?
It could be because the sunlight warms them up as it comes through the panes.
Consider getting them a small cat bed or some cotton towels in these areas to help insulate their body heat while they soak up the sun.
Kitten Comfort Every Day
Keeping your home at the optimal temperature for your furry friend is critical in maintaining their immune system, keeping them happy, and ensuring their overall health and safety.
Consider a smart thermostat if you live in a hardened climate where you can monitor your home temperature from work, and adjust it as needed.