How Do I Know If My Cat Is Cold?

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Cold?As cats live with us all the time it is easy to forget they have different needs than us. They like it warmer than we do and can easily get cold in spite of their fur. Not all cats are the same and breed, age and health may all play their part in your cat’s ability to keep warm. It is vital to know if they are cold or not.

There are several ways you can tell if your cat is cold. You can check their body language. If they are cold they will curl up tight. Check their body for signs of cold, ie the ears and tails and see if they are shivering. They may use you as their heated pad. However, you need to know not only the signs of cold but also if it is something more serious. This article goes into more detail.

Cats are heat-seeking missiles that usually just hate the cold so just how do you know if your cat is cold? Below I explore the signs with some personal examples.

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Cold?

Why Should I Be Worried If My Cat is Shivering?

Cats will shiver if they are cold. Most people would expect that and think nothing of it. However, with cats, there are other reasons why they might shiver besides the cold and it would be worth checking with your vet if there are other reasons if you have any doubts or your cat is exhibiting other unusual signs or behaviour. Don’t leave it.

Scarab: My sister’s cat Scarab had bouts of shivering which didn’t stop after some much-needed lap time. She phoned me one day and he was having difficulty with keeping warm. She was worried and neither of us thought it seemed right. She’d done all she could for him but he just couldn’t stop shivering.

My sister is a diligent cat owner so she took him to the vets and found out he has difficulty in regulating his body temperature. This happens sometimes in cats and Scarab is particularly prone. The vets said he needed food and this would help. We say any excuse for him to get his paws on food, he does love his crunchies.

If Your Cat Has Cold Ears?

Cats can have cold ears and it may be nothing to be worried about. They do use their ears to regulate the temperature of their bodies. Like us, your cat will remove the heat from its ears and other outer extremities in order to keep warm.

This also happens if your cat is resting as it reduces heat from around the body to keep energy use to a minimum while it sleeps

However, there can also be more serious medical reasons such as Hypothermia.

Is It Hypothermia?

If your cat simply has cold ears and is quite perky and still eating etc then there probably isn’t an issue. If however your cat’s behaviour is off and they have all of their extremities cold like ears, tail tips, paws and even their mouth then there could be a more serious issue happening like hypothermia.

If you are in any doubt wrap your kitty up in a warm soft blanket, check their temperature and call the vets immediately.

Your Cats Body Language Will Change

Wheres the Thermostat Mom?

As with many things to do with your cat you can tell by body language and habits.

One of the main ways you can see if your cat is cold is if it curls up into a tight ball. When cats get cold they tend to want to conserve heat the colder they are the tighter the ball. They will tuck in their legs, paws and tails. They will also tuck in their noises under their paws to keep warmer.

They may stick their fur out like a bristle brush to capture extra warmth.

If you’re in doubt simply pop the heat up a couple of degrees and watch them unfold like a flower in the morning sunlight.

Cat Breeds and The Cold

If you have a breed specific cat some will be ill-equipped to deal with the cold. They may not have much in the way of fur like the Sphynx cat or they may not have an undercoat like the Ragdoll. These cats may feel the cold more. They will struggle unless you keep your house warm and consistent.

Older and Younger Cats

If you have an older cat or a kitten they may not be able to regulate their body temperatures properly or as well as other cats. So they feel the cold more.

Holly: I had my old cat Holly from the age of 16 through to 21. She struggled with the cold and my house isn’t particularly warm. To make sure she was warm she had a covered heated house so it was 2-3 degrees warmer in there especially with her body heat. I only did this when she could move from her spot for safety reasons.

Kittens I believe especially young ones under 3 weeks cannot control their body temperature, it is dangerous for them to be away from mum. If you are looking after kittens, kitten specific advice might be needed.

If Your Cat Is An Indoor-Only Cat Is Cold An Issue?

Cats that have been indoors all their lives will shed even if they are inside. However, although cats are adaptable they may not be so used to dealing with extremes of cold.

It is not a good idea to keep an indoor cat outside if it is not used to it.

If your cat is cold indoors there is much you can do to keep it warm and comfortable.

Know Your Cat body Temperatures

If you know how warm your cat’s body should be you can use a thermometer to tell if they are cold or not.

A cat’s body temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees with a middle of about 101.5 about (38.6C/39C).

Know Your Cats Behaviour and Habits

If you know your cat’s behaviours and habits well you will be able to not only tell if they are cold but also if they may be ill by observing them.

Some people say they cannot tell if their cat is cold as their cat will seek out their laps regardless of the outside temperature. This is so true of many cats especially mine. However, there are ways to tell.

For example, my cat Boo will come up to my pillow and lie next to my head for company and purr. This is quite common for him he is fairly consistent as to the time although this does vary depending on the season. He then proceeds to let me know its time (in his opinion) to get up.

If he does this in the middle of the night it’s more likely because he is cold. He will come up yet he wants to get much closer and will place more of his body against my head. Once warmer he goes back to his bed to sleep. This is only a slight difference but enough to tell that he is cold.

When is Your Cat Seeking the Heat?

Ahh Tropics!

Cats when cold will also seek the heat, they may seek your lap until they warm up, the top of the radiator, warm clothes, in an airing cupboard or even a computer base. They will probably know where any warm pipes run under the floor.  They know every sliver of sunlight. They may even sleep together. All signs they need extra warmth.

Boo: Boo disappeared upstairs the other day and I found him curled up on the duvet. He never sleeps on the duvet, a clear sign he was cold.


It’s not always easy to read your cat and see if it is poorly or not or just cold. Above gives lots of ways to see if your cat is cold. If you make sure your cat is warm and it does not warm up, or you have any suspicions that there are other factors or signs that it might be something more please check immediately with your vet as individual cats and circumstances are different then they will be much more able to advise you for your specific circumstances.

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