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Cats in Cold Weather: What You Need to Know

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

The temps have dropped in New Castle County and winter weather is upon us. Even cats with thick coats and a hardiness for the outdoors can succumb to the dangers of cold weather. These winter wellness tips will help you protect your cat’s health, keeping kitty warm, happy and healthy all season.

What Temperature is Too Cold for Cats?

Make no mistake: Regardless of the thickness of a cat’s coat, or how accustomed they may be to spending time outdoors, they are at high risk for health issues as temperatures plummet. As a general rule, once temperatures drop below 45 degrees F, a cat’s outdoor time should be limited.

Even though outdoor cats tend to know when to come back inside--any number of factors can intervene and prevent them from getting back to a warm and safe home. For any cat, once temps reach and below freezing, a cat is at high risk for hypothermia. It’s a good idea to limit the time the cat is outdoors to about 15-20 minutes every other day. This may vary depending on the age, general health, and activity level of your kitty (so know your cat, well!).

Cats with the following health conditions will have an increased vulnerability to cold weather:

  • Thyroid conditions and Conditions that affect thermoregulation

  • Kidney (renal) disease

  • Heart Disease

  • Arthritis

Additionally, indoor cats can feel the intensity of cold weather as it seeps through windows and around doors. All cats should have a warm, cozy bed to retire to, along with an extra blanket to cuddle into.

Signs that Your Cat is Colder than It Should Be

There are a few signs of moderate to severe hypothermia that you can watch for, including:

  • Confusion, dizziness

  • Dilated pupils

  • Difficulty breathing, shallow breathing

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Low blood pressure

  • Slow heartbeat

In severe cases of hypothermia, a cat will become highly lethargic and will be at risk for falling into a coma.

If you suspect your cat is experiencing hypothermia, take the following steps immediately:

  1. Bring into a warm room

  2. Wrap in warm (not hot) towels. Do not use a heating pad or heating blanket.

  3. Provide water, but don’t let them drink too much too quickly.

  4. If your cat is not perking-up, call your veterinarian.

If at any point your cat is non-responsive, wrap in a warm blanket and seek immediate medical attention. Err on the side of caution: If you aren’t sure if your pet is warming-up sufficiently, take it to an emergency animal hospital.

Also, be aware that cats can contract other health conditions stemming from exposure to cold weather including, respiratory illness (bronchitis, flu), frostbite, and dry cold air can affect a cat’s skin health.

A Happy, Healthy and Warm Cat with Kitten Sittin' of Delaware

Throughout the cold months of the year, monitor your cat for signs of cold, avoid prolonged exposure to cold weather, and keep your cat hydrated.

If you are working outside the home or need to be away from home for extended periods, always make sure someone can look in on your cat. Contact Kitten Sittin’ of Delaware for professional, caring, and expert cat sitting services to keep your kitty happy, healthy and warm.

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