Pet Tips

Cats and Cold Weather – Pet tip 211

Even though we see cats outside in temperatures ranging from zero to -15 degrees Celsius and colder, it does not mean that cats can survive outdoors in the winter. The brutal fact is that the winter kills many tens of thousands of cats each year and this figure includes both domestic housecats as well as feral or stray cats.

Although you may have chosen to allow your domestic cat to have access to the outdoors in general, the winter is the time to keep the doors closed for the entire season. Even though some cats can grow a really thick coat in the fall in preparation for the winter, it simply isn’t enough to keep them from freezing to death. Aside from that, outdoor cats see many threats like cat-hating humans, cars and other cats that it may try to avoid but the cold air is simply unavoidable. It doesn’t take long at all for a cat to become hypothermic or suffer from frostbite. Just because you let your cat out in the middle of the winter and it comes back, it does not guarantee that it will come back the following day. If you love your cat, please keep it inside for the entire winter no matter how often it begs to go outside. You cat will stop begging eventually and you can let it out again in the springtime if you should so choose. You should know that on average, an exclusively indoor cat will live about 6 years longer than cats that go outdoors.

One of the obvious key things that both stray and feral cats do when it is really cold outside is to seek warmth wherever they can find it. A domestic cat may want to play when it gets outside but if it’s too cold, the only thing that the cat wants to do is seek warmth. Common places cats try to seek refuge is near heating/dryer vents of any kind, under or in any type of shelter (abandoned or not) and underneath/near the actual warm engines of cars that are parked. Tragedy can happen if they are still there when the car is restarted. Please KNOCK on the car and HONK the horn a few times BEFORE starting your car in the winter. It normally scares any cats in your engine to leave immediately.

Since stray cats have nowhere good to go during the winter and there are people that want to help strays that hang around their houses and apartments, something to consider is constructing a makeshift shelter so that the cats can survive. Makeshift shelters are actually quite inexpensive to construct, and if built correctly will save one or several cats’ lives when the weather is simply unbearable. This link shows how to construct a shelter for feral or stray cats. When it comes to your own domestic cats though, please keep them inside all winter long.

6 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Dominik Rudisch says:

    That tip is utter nonsense.
    My cat would kick down the door if I’d lock her in all winter long.

    Albeit that tip might be valid for a spoiled and overbred Persian or the like, it’s definitely not true for every cat. Locking up e.g. a Norwegian Forest Cat all winter long would be on the brink of the absurd and could result in a very miffed cat and a very littered flat or house.

  2. Avatar scoota says:

    My cat would kill me if I didn’t let him outside when he wanted out. As it is he bites and scratches me to get what he wants until I say yes or I punish him by putting him outside so he can’t have access to biting and scratching me. He evenutally gets over it and comes back all charming and purrs but if he had to stay locked up he would kill me. He had to be locked up for 6 weeks when he got hit by a car and had a broken pelvis and that was hell for him. He hates being locked up even though he loves being in bed with me and laying by the heater in winter there are times he just wants to go and be a cat and that means going outside and doing cat things. Afterall I am not going to deny my cat from being a cat, he is not a human nor a toy, he is a living breathing animal, he is a cat and that is why I have him in the first place. Doesn’t mean I love him any less than I love people or other animals, actually I probably love him more.

  3. Avatar Kelly says:

    My kitten died when he escaped the house on a cold winter night in Texas.

  4. Avatar Sammy says:

    My cat just survived a night in -40 degrees

  5. Avatar Sally says:

    I’m in Boston dealing with one of the worst winters of my life. Sub 0 windchills 100 inches of snow – a cat with a collar on it has been around my house in the garage surviving because I’m feeding it- trying to bring it to a shelter with a hav a heart trap- my heart breaks for this poor animal- anyone with common sense keeps a cat indoors all winter season- they will surely die due to your negligence- use common sense.

  6. Avatar Camille Dougherty says:

    We lost power for over 70 hours last week. I left my indoor cat at home thinking it was only going to be 12 hours. but after leaving him in the apartment at -10 degrees Celsius for over 40 hours, when I finally got back to check on him he was moving extremely slow and his paws and nose were incredibly cold. I loaded him in his crate and took him to be borded until we had power back. After I went to pick him up he was much better. I think if I had left him for much longer he would have been going into Hypothermic shock.

Leave a Comment

(Additional questions? Ask them for free in our dog - cat - pet forum)