How Cold is Too Cold for Outdoor Cats?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

How cold is too cold for outdoor cats? That’s a question many cat owners ask as winter approaches. Here’s what you need to know to keep your feline friend safe and warm.

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Many people who love cats also have an affinity for the outdoors. It’s no wonder, then, that some folks assume their feline friends can join them on hikes or camping trips. Unfortunately, cats are not built for extended periods in cold weather and can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite if they’re not properly protected.

Outdoor cats typically fare best in temperatures above freezing, and they should have access to a warm, dry shelter if they spend any significant amount of time outside. If the temperature dips below freezing, consider bringing your cat inside or providing a heated garage or shed for him to stay in.

The Dangers of Extreme Cold for Cats

outdoor cats are at risk in cold weather. When the temperature dips below freezing, they can suffer from frostbite, hypothermia, and other health problems. In fact, cold weather is one of the leading causes of death for outdoor cats.

Health Risks

When temperatures drop, it’s important to recognize the risks that cold weather poses to your cat. Though cats are natural predators and cold-weather survivors, they are still vulnerable to the health hazards that come along with extreme cold.

Cats can develop frostbite when exposed to freezing temperatures, which can lead to pain, skin inflammation, and tissue damage. In severe cases, frostbite can result in amputation of the affected body part. Cats are also at risk for hypothermia, a condition characterized by low body temperature. Hypothermia can cause weakness, muscle tremors, and even cardiac arrest.

Outdoor cats are particularly susceptible to these dangers since they do not have the same access to shelter and warmth that indoor cats do. If you must keep your cat outdoors during cold weather, be sure to provide them with a warm, dry place to stay, such as a garage or shed. Make sure their bedding is clean and dry, and consider using a heated mat or pet bed to provide additional warmth. Bring them indoors if possible during periods of extremely cold weather.

Behavioural Risks

As temperatures dip below freezing, outdoor cats will begin to look for warm places to sleep. Unfortunately, this often brings them into conflict with people and other animals. They might seek shelter in your engine block, burrow under your porch, or sneak into your neighbour’s garage. While they’re trying to stay warm, they might get hurt or become lost.

To stay safe, keep your cat indoors during extreme cold snaps. If they must go out,monitor their activities closely and bring them back inside at the first sign of distress.

Signs That Your Cat is Cold

There are several signs that your cat is cold and needs to come inside, including:

·Hunching over: Cats will hunch over when they’re cold in an attempt to reduce the surface area of their body that’s exposed to the cold air.

·Shivering: Shivering is another sign that your cat is too cold. If your cat is shivering, it’s a good idea to bring them inside.

·Going off their food: A lack of appetite can be a sign of several things, including stress, illness, and being too cold. If your cat is off their food and you think the cold may be to blame, bring them inside and offer them a warm meal or some warming soup.

·Acting lethargic: If your cat seems unusually sluggish or sleepy, it may be a sign that they’re too cold. Cats who are too cold will often spend most of their time trying to stay warm, rather than running around and playing like they normally would.

·Seeking out warmth: If your cat is spending more time than usual curled up in front of the fire or snuggled under a blanket, it’s a sign that they’re feeling the cold more than usual and are looking for ways to stay warm.

What to Do if Your Cat is Cold

If your cat is cold, there are a few things you can do to help them. First, bring them inside and put them in a warm room. You can also put a blanket or towel over them to help them warm up. If your cat is shivering, give them a warm drink of water or milk. If they are still cold after a few minutes, you can contact your veterinarian.

Bring Them Indoors

If your kitty spends time outdoors, bring them inside if the temperature dips below freezing. Even if they seem resistant at first, they will quickly warm up and be glad to be indoors. If they spend most of their time outdoors, consider getting them a heated bed or kitty condo to keep them warm and toasty.

Create a Warm Sleeping Area

If you have an outdoor cat, or a cat that spends time outdoors, it’s important to provide them with a warm, dry, and safe place to sleep. A pet door leading into the house is ideal, but if that’s not possible, consider setting up a comfortable and weatherproof sleeping area in an insulated garage, shed, or other outbuilding.

Heated beds or pads are great for outdoor cats, as they help keep them warm even on the coldest nights. You can also provide extra blankets or towels for your cat to snuggle into. Just be sure that whatever you use is non-toxic and won’t pose a risk of injury if your cat decides to chew on it.

Contact a Vet

If your cat is showing signs of distress, such as increased vocalization, shivering, or lethargy, contact a veterinarian immediately. Cats can develop hypothermia quickly, and it can be fatal if not treated promptly.


Based on the research, it is clear that there is no definitive answer to how cold is too cold for an outdoor cat. Some cats seem to thrive in cold climates, while others become ill or even die in relatively mild weather. The best way to determine whether your cat can safely stay outdoors in cold weather is to observe its behavior and listen to its cues. If your cat seems uncomfortable or exhibits signs of distress, bring it inside and provide it with a warm bed and plenty of food and water.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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