Whether you have an indoor cat that enjoys snuggling or an outdoor cat that enjoys pursuing prey through the snow, it is critical to know what to do to protect your cat from the low temperatures.

It is scientifically acknowledged that indoor pets that have not been exposed to cold weather should not be let outside when the average daily temperature is less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cats, especially if they are used to being outside, should always have access to warm shelters. Kittens, elderly cats, and ill cats should never be left outside when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most cats can tolerate chilly temperatures rather well. Cats who have spent a lot of time outside know when it’s time to come in.

How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside

How Cold Can Cats Handle or Survive?

Although most cats can handle low temperatures very well, the average daily temperature of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celcius) can be handled by most cats.

Usually how cold can cats survive outside will depend on a variety of factors like age, breed, fur, health, and body mass?

Just as a general rule of thumb, anything below 45 degrees Fahrenheit is considered as too cold for your cats.

According to a recommendation by The American Veterinary Medical Association, the ideal temperature for sheltered pets should be maintained between 80 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although, cats have very high resilience and can survive in very low temperatures outside.

So the most important question that comes to mind for any cat owner is “how cold can a cat survive?”

In general, outdoor cats can surely handle lower temperatures better than indoor cats, any temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit is not tolerable by cats and hard to survive.

How Long Can Cats Survive In Cold Weather?

Younger cats may be able to endure cooler temperatures than older cats or animals suffering from illness or arthritis. It will also depend on how much food the cat has access to.

How Long Can Cats Survive In Cold Weather?

If they’re going to be outside in the cold, they’ll require extra calories. It also depends on whether the cat is an indoor-only cat or has regular outside access.

Outside cats are more likely to be familiar with the region and to know where the best shelter is. Indoor cats will lack this expertise and therefore be more prone to fear if they are forced to venture outside.

Frostbite and hypothermia are most likely around 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius, although your cat may be uncomfortable even at higher temperatures. It is dependent on the cat in question.

Long-haired cats are thought to be able to endure colder temperatures, according to some. True, certain cat breeds have coats that help keep them a little warmer in cold weather, but they are still susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). The normal body temperature of a cat varies depending on the breed, but it’s generally around 102°F (38.9°C).

Frostbite may affect any area of the body exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended length of time. The ears, tail, and paw pads are the most commonly affected areas.

You may not detect the indications of frostbite for a few days, which means the condition may progress. Your veterinarian will need to treat both frostbite and hypothermia.

Most people are aware that they should not leave their cat, or any pet, in the car on a hot day, but many believe that they will be fine in the car during colder weather.

A chilly automobile, in fact, is just as dangerous as a hot car. It effectively turns into a refrigerator, and cats can soon succumb to hypothermia under these conditions.

While your garage may appear to be an excellent location for your cat in the winter, it isn’t. The majority of garages include hidden risks.

Antifreeze, chemical cleansers, and ice melting chemicals are all hazardous to cats, yet they are kept in the garage. Even sucking antifreeze off their fur can harm them.

Some individuals keep their automobiles in their garages. Because cars might appear to be a comfortable place to sleep, you should always check to see if your cat hasn’t climbed up into the engine or wheel well for a nap before starting the engine.

Feral cats live outside all year, but even in the winter, they may require assistance. You may either furnish or construct a shelter out of rubber tubs, straws, and Styrofoam.

Ascertain that they have access to food and water. Keep an eye on the water to see if it has frozen. Insulated bowls are available to assist keep the water liquid.

You might like to read about do cats have winter coats

Can Cats Die In The Cold?

Hypothermia causes cats to lose consciousness and freeze to death, much like it does people.

Can Cats Die In The Cold?

Cats can perish if their body temperature drops below 16°C (60°F) – it should typically be around 38°C (100°F) – according to an early experiment.

Shorthaired cats that are older or in poor condition are more susceptible to the cold than healthy longhaired cats. Don’t forget that the wind chill effect might cause temperatures to drop even more.

If it’s too cold for you to be outside for lengthy periods of time, it’s probably too cold for your cat.

Cats seeking refuge from the cold frequently enter automobile engines where there is still some warmth left over from the last time the car was driven, so check underneath before driving away.

Anyone feeding an outdoor feral cat colony in winter should make sure the cats have a warm place to sleep, plenty of food to keep them warm, and access to fresh water.

If you’re hosting a party or having visitors over, make sure your cat has a quiet refuge to go to away from the crowds and somewhere dark to hide.

Tinsel, ornamental wrapping ribbons, and elastic bands should be thrown away and tinsel, decorative wrapping ribbons, and elastic bands should be cleaned up since they might create issues in your cat’s intestines if ingested.

Giving your pet a taste of turkey or salmon is fine, but don’t overdo it. At this time of year, veterinarians frequently find sick pets who have been unable to deal with unfamiliar cuisine or who have overindulged.

Poisonous to cats are poinsettias, amaryllis, mistletoe berries, holly berries, and lilies. If you have them in the house, keep them out of reach of your cat – learn more about poisonous plants for cats.

If your pet requires medication, make sure you have plenty for the holidays; the same goes for prescription food. Make a mental note of the nearest veterinary clinic that handles after-hours/holiday emergencies for your regular practice, just in case.

Also, check out How Long Can a Cat Survive Locked in a Shed?

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Freeze To Death?

A cat will successfully sustain very frosty conditions for up to 3-4 days and then they will ultimately freeze to death.

Hypothermia is the most serious danger a cat confronts in cold weather. Hypothermia is a potentially deadly disorder that occurs when a person’s body temperature drops to dangerously low levels.

If a cat is exposed to freezing temperatures or its fur becomes wet in a cold setting, hypothermia is likely to occur. When the body temperature drops below a particular level, the pulse rate and respiration reduce, increasing the risk of coma, renal failure, heart attacks, and even death.

Just because a cat has a thick coat to shield them from the cold doesn’t mean they’re immune to it.

While certain varieties of a cat are more suited to cold weather than others (e.g., long-haired types like the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Siberian), any cat can get frostbite or hypothermia if exposed to freezing conditions.

Here’s what you need to know if you’ve ever wondered if a cat may freeze to death or want to learn more about how to keep your cat safe throughout the winter.

Do Cats Shiver When They Are Cold?

If your cat is really cold, he may begin to shiver in the same way that a human would.

Shivering can be a symptom of worry, discomfort, or disease, so keep an eye on your cat’s other behaviors.

Shivering when panting is a symptom of tension or discomfort, for example. It might also be an indication of fever, especially if it’s followed by a loss of appetite or grooming. Consult your veterinarian if you have any doubts.

Can Domestic Cats Survive Outside

Yes, domestic cats can survive outside in the cold but not for an extended period of time.

It’s pretty obvious that the resilience power of indoor cats to survive in the cold outside is less compared to outside cats as they are not used to facing such extreme environmental changes very frequently.

But it doesn’t mean that indoor cats can’t survive at all in the cold temperatures.

Cats are very adaptable creatures and adapt to any changes very quickly for survival.

How Do Stray Cats Survive Cold Weather in Winter?

Stray/Feral cat survives cold weather in winter by seeking out abandoned houses, abandoned automobiles, and even digging tunnels in the ground to remain warm.

Stray cats are hardy, adventurous, and used to living in the open. They don’t want to be in a house and don’t want to be near others. Some of them can withstand below-zero temperatures because they live in colonies in an area they are familiar with.

While it may be difficult for some animal lovers to believe, feral cats, unlike their tamed counterparts, is happier being outside.

You might like to read about where do cats sleep outside at night

How To Keep A Stray Cat Warm Outside In Winter?

Sweaters can assist in keeping cats warm; however, there are a few rules to follow to guarantee your pets’ safety.

How To Keep A Stray Cat Warm Outside In Winter?

It is critical that the item of clothing fits the animal properly. The sweater should not be so big that it hangs freely or creates holes that impede the animal from staying warm.

On the other side, you don’t want a sweater that’s excessively tight, since this might cause circulation issues or skin irritation in the animal.

Cats that spend their entire day outside are naturally more adapted to flowing with the flow outside than cats that opt to go out for a night-time stroll once or twice a month.

You are the most knowledgeable about your cat. When the average daily temperature is less than 45°F, doctors advise against leaving your cat outside without a warm shelter to escape.

That is an average, not a one-time occurrence. If the temperature has been 55°F all day but drops to 44°F at night? That’s probably all right. But what if the days are 40°F on average and the nights are 28°F? That’s when it’s important to create backup plans.

If you have an outdoor cat, it is your job to provide her with a secure and warm place to retreat to if she needs to. That doesn’t mean you should purchase her a fully-heated cat home for the yard, but it does mean you should take a few measures to keep her from becoming stranded in the cold.

An enclosed outdoor shelter furnished with blankets and elevated off the ground, as well as a cracked garage door and a comfortable bed in the nook behind the car will suffice.

All your cat really needs is a place where he or she can get out of the elements (and where the temperature stays above 45°F!). Do you live in an area where extremely cold days and nights are the norms?

Then you might want to consider installing a cat door in your home or investing in a permanent heated structure. It’s not impossible to convert an outdoor cat to an indoor cat, but it’s considerably more difficult after the cat is no longer a kitten.

If a cat has been wild for more than a year, providing a secure outside environment is preferable to trying to domesticate her.

Outdoor cats are used to being a little uneasy, and they won’t mind in most cases. When the temperature lowers, the most important thing to consider is your cat’s safety, not her comfort.

She becomes vulnerable to the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite as the temperature drops below 32°F, both of which can lead to death.

When your cat’s body temperature drops dangerously low, it’s called hypothermia. Her central nervous system will suffer from depression, and her heart will struggle to pump blood throughout her body.

As a result of the loss of blood supply to her extremities, frostbite develops.

Your cat will grow more unable to go to safety as hypothermia and frostbite set in. Remember that wet weather (think rain, sleet, or snow) causes your cat’s insulation to break down, even more, putting her at risk.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your cat is cold?

You’ll need to be especially vigilant to spot these subtle symptoms that your cat is chilly because cats try to disguise their pain. Your cat’s ears, paws, and tail tip will be the first to lose heat. Your cat is undoubtedly feeling cold if these body areas are cold.

What does it mean when a cat feels cold?

A chilly cat’s extremities, such as the tips of his ears, tail, or nose, may feel colder to the touch than usual. Hypothermia can cause a cat to become lethargic, with dilated pupils and shallow respiration. Symptoms like these may necessitate quick care from a veterinarian.

Do cats get cold easily?

Cats are well-adapted to cold weather, but they are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite when the temperature drops below freezing. Cats will seek out a warm area to burrow down during periods of cold weather. Building an outdoor cat shelter may be a low-cost and enjoyable family activity.

Final Words

Cats become vulnerable to the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite as the temperature drops below 32°F, both of which can lead to death. When your cat’s body temperature drops dangerously low, it’s called hypothermia.

Feel free to drop your questions in the comments section below!


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  1. My cat escaped lastnight at 9:30 at night he’s used to being out side and it isn’t uncommon for him to be out all night but we have just had a cold snap of average -8° and he never showed up in the morning which is very un common it’s closing on 24hrs now and still haven’t seen him I’ve been outside all day calling and left food and water. What else can I expect?

    1. Hello Jeff,

      Usually -8 is too low to survive for indoor cats. But at the same time, cats have very strong survival instincts and usually find warm places for survival.

      Hope you will find your cat soon.

      Happy cat parenting

  2. 3 outdoor cats showed up and they have been staying on my back patio. I bought a heated house for them with the cat heating pad. Will this be good enough to keep them warm at 20 degrees. They are feral and will not come near me and I do feed and chat water for them twice a day.

  3. We have been feeding two feral male cats who generally tolerate each other but sometimes swipe at each other. We have them each heated and insulated cathouses (K & H) outside. Since it has gotten cold, I have been feeding them in our garage. We also bought heated beds for the garage which is insulated and heated to 60 degrees by a mini split. I closed the garage door when they came in tonight but usually leave it cracked and turn off the heat when we go to bed and they can go in and out. But, it is unusually cold here in NC (wind chill of 13 degrees tonight and snow) so plan to leave the garage door closed so they have to stay in the garage tonight. They both let us pet them but they are definitely not lap cats. One of them keeps looking at the back door like he would like to get out. Should I let them out even though it is unusually cold? Also, one of the cats disappeared the first night it snowed and was gone three days before returning. Thank you for any advice. We have never had cats.

  4. I brought my outdoor cat inside because of the snow and temperature in the teens. He is comfortable in a large dog cage and has been inside for about 10 days now. I have 5 dogs and they don’t get along. Is it Okay to put him outside since the snow has gone and the day temp is in the 40-50F? It does drop below freezing at night but I have a cat shelter with a heating pad.

    1. Once your outdoor cat has felt the comfort of staying inside the house, it is highly unlikely that he would want to go out in the wilderness. However, if he is not neutered, he would want to roam around outside the house.

      Yes, he can start living outside if there’s a cat shelter available with a heating pad.

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