Do Cats Like the Cold or Heat?

You want your cat to feel comfortable in the home, but you don’t know if he likes hot or cold. Generally speaking, cats prefer the same temperature that humans do, but they do have a slight variation to it that you may want to be aware of. 

Do cats like the cold or heat? Cats, once desert animals in northern Africa, usually prefer the heat to the cold due to their genetics. This is one of the reasons that you often see them sunbathing even on hot days. With that said, they still seek shadier and cooler spots on days that reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keep reading because we will look at the ideal temperature for your cat and what you can do to make your cat feel comfortable no matter what the temperature.

What Temperatures Do Cats Feel Most Comfortable In?

Cats feel the most comfortable in temperatures between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Your cat has a consistent body temperature from 100.4 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything over 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit shows that your cat displays signs of a fever. Keeping the temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit will ensure that your cat feels comfortable.

Expert Tip: Your cat and what temperature he feels most comfortable will depend on his personality. I have had longhaired cats that had no problem with my air-conditioned home. At the same time, I had another cat that would often seek the garage all summer long even during the peak heat season in July. Like humans, what feels comfortable may somewhat depend on the personality of the cat.

Because of the higher body temperature, cats can appreciate the heat even a little more than humans. I’ve often looked at my cat on a hot day to see him bathing in the sun and enjoying himself. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the sun’s rays.

Generally, cats will do fine even at lower temperatures for short periods, but you wouldn’t want them out in the cold for too long because it can potentially harm them. However, I’ve known plenty of outdoor cats even during the colder months of the winter that did okay. Oftentimes, the cat will seek a warmer shelter like under the home or in a barn.

The breed of the cat plays a role as well. For example, the Norwegian Forest Cat can handle cold temperatures better than some of the other breeds like the Sphinx and Siamese cats. 

How to Tell if Your Cat Feels Cold?

Want to know of a cool way to tell if your cat feels cold? Feel the tips of his ears and if his ears feel cold, it means that your cat feels cold. You may either want to raise the temperature, or you may want to give him a blanket. 

Some people feel the fur, but it can prove more difficult to tell if your cat feels cold in comparison to the ears. You can also look for other signs like your cat gravitating toward warmer locations like the radiator or a cable box. You will also notice how they often gravitate toward the warmest room in the home especially during the winter months. 

Anything consistently under 45 degrees Fahrenheit may prove too cold for your cat, and you will want to move them indoors if possible. Temperatures between 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit would be fine in most cases, but you wouldn’t think of it as ideal. 

If you feel uncomfortable because of the cold, you can bet that your cat will feel uncomfortable too because of his higher body temperature. 

Your cat may compress or huddle his body to take up as little space as possible when cold. You may see him shiver in cold temperatures. When feeling warm and comfortable, he will usually have his body sprawled out. 

Do Kittens Prefer Warmth or Cold?

Kittens will especially need warmer temperatures, and in fact, they need a higher temperature than adults. Even in normal temperature settings, your kitten may suffer hypothermia because he can’t retain his body heat as well as an adult cat. Especially beware of kittens under the eight-week mark because of their inability to regulate their body temperature. 

You can help a kitten to regulate their body temperature with warm blankets. If possible, try to keep it even warmer than what you might like. For example, kittens prefer temperatures between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit for those eight weeks and under. Smaller animals have a harder time retaining body heat.

Expert Tip: While kittens may dislike too cold of temperatures, you should take caution with too hot of temperatures as well. Anything over 97 degrees Fahrenheit would be too hot for your kitten. Think of it this way—choose a room temperature warm for you but still bearable. 

Kittens will do fine in an air-conditioned room as long as you provide a blanket or somewhere warm that they might nest in. 

Factors That Can Impact Temperature for Your Cat

Some of the factors that can have a negative impact on the temperature of your cat include:

  • Type of coat
  • Thickness of coat
  • Weight 
  • Medical conditions
  • Age

To find the perfect temperature, you must consider the type of cat and what they seem to prefer. Underweight cats and those suffering from a medical condition may have a special vulnerability to the cold that you want to factor in. 

Beware of hairless breeds because the lack of fur will make them more susceptible to cold temperatures. Don’t buy a Sphynx cat if you keep the air conditioning up too high. The match would be terrible unless you are willing to keep the air conditioning minimal in the home. You could also lay out a wardrobe of sweaters, but in general, we would find it better to get a longhair breed for those who like air conditioning. 

Beware of Dampness in the Home

Most cats hate water—my gray furball being no exception. Why do they hate water, however? Wet fur takes a long time to dry, and it feels uncomfortable. Especially after being exposed to the cold, it can put them at risk of being sick. Many reasons exist for why cats hate water, but going back to the cold temperatures, you must keep your kitten warm if you decide to give them a bath. 

I kept mine wrapped in a towel until he dried off completely.

I wouldn’t recommend giving them a bath in most cases because cats prefer to groom themselves. The act of grooming doesn’t pose as much risk to their body temperature. Exposure to cold air and wet fur often leads to hypothermia.

Dampness in the home poses another danger—respiratory problems. Mold and allergens can trigger allergies in cats susceptible to this danger. 

Hypothermia in Cats

Not treated quickly enough, the consequences may prove tragic. Veterinarians define hypothermia in cats as anything below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to act fast if you believe your cat is in the grips of hypothermia. 

Some of the signs that your cat has hypothermia include:

  • Violent shivering
  • Ears, paws and tail noticeably colder
  • Lethargic
  • Breathing rate slows

If you see your cat experiencing these symptoms, move him to a warmer area immediately. You might wrap him in a towel or blanket to keep his body temperature regulated. Warm water bottles can help with warming him up, but make sure that it isn’t too warm. Don’t use electric heating pads since it can burn your cat even on the lowest temperature setting.

What if Your Cat is Too Hot?

Hot temperatures usually prove less problematic than cold temperatures. Still, anything over 97 degrees Fahrenheit may be too much heat for your cat. Cats do better in the heat than dogs, but you may want to take them indoors for temperatures over that amount. 

Signs that your cat may be experiencing heat exhaustion include:

  • Panting
  • Lethargy
  • Restlessness
  • Vocalizing
  • Grayish or dark red gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased body temperatures

If your cat displays any of those signs, it may need immediate care. A cat that feels too hot will do their best to seek out shady locations or cool spots. Reduce the cat’s stress as well to bring him under control because stress can bring on heat exhaustion. 

You can learn more about your cat being too hot and what to do about it here: 

Some cat breeds may have greater vulnerability to overheating. Himalayans and Persian cats have a much higher risk because of the extra hair. Not only will they experience susceptibility to heat, but they may experience vulnerability to humidity because of how they can’t regulate their body temperatures. 

In some cases, your cat may roll in the dirt as a way of cooling off from the heat of the sun—dust bathing—common in many animals. I wrote about that and some of the many reasons that they do that here.

Cats Prefer the Heat

Because of their genetics that go back to the northern deserts of Africa, cats prefer the heat. Still, anything over 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and you may want to keep your cat indoors to avoid heat exhaustion. Cats have a higher temperature than humans, but like most animals, you don’t want anything too hot because of how it can be dangerous to most animals.

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