When I leave my cat alone at home or when I go to sleep at night and I see her sleeping in the living room I wonder what would be the ideal temperature for her, what it’s too hot for me maybe it’s great for her and viceversa. So I decided to investigate and find out.
In general terms, cats tolerate more warm temperatures than most people considering their body temperature is from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. However, long haired cats breeds can tolerate much colder temperatures than short haired cats. This is a general rule and the adaptability to temperatures will depend on other factors, such as age, size and health condition. There is not really a magic number so the best approach is to analyze the following factors to figure out if your cat will be fine with normal room temperature or if it will need some adjustments.
CAT’S ADAPTABILITY TO TEMPERATURES DEPENDS ON:
Breed: Long-haired cats tolerate better cool temperatures than short-haired cats. For example, the Siberian cat is much more prepared for cold temperatures than a Burmese due to its thick fur that warms up its body. Cats such as Siberian, Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cats even have their paws covered by hair designed to walk in the snow or cold forest. Cats with thick coats may feel more uncomfortable with higher temperatures than short-haired cats.
Age: Kittens need higher temperatures than adult cats. A kitten could even suffer hypothermia in normal environmental temperatures due to the lack of capacity to retain body heat. Also, old cats need more warm temperatures than young adult cats as they usually suffer bone or joint pain.
Size: The smaller your cat, the less capacity to retain body heat. Also, if your cat is slim with low body fat you need to provide more sources of heat for it to feel comfortable and safe. On the other hand, if your cat is overweight it’ll probably be able to handle cool temperatures a little better.
Health: Cats with thyroid problems could be more prone to avoid too much heat. If a cat is suffering an infection or another type of sickness you need to provide your pet a warmer environment than usual, with a heated pet bed or heated blanket.
CHOOSING THE TEMPERATURE
It’s important to mention that the following guide tries to reach a realistic temperature for humans and cats, recognizing the ability of cats to adjust their body temperature to the environment using the means provided at home. In strict theory, a temperature between 86 to 97 degrees would keep the cat’s body temperature in neutral mode, but this is an unrealistic temperature for humans (and expensive in Winter). Also, this range doesn’t consider the type of cat and this is a very important factor. The Norwegian Forest cat (and similar breeds) doesn’t need a high temperature while short haired breeds do.
If you have a healthy long haired cat, big sized or fat cat you most likely won’t need to worry too much about your pet from being too cold if you keep your pet indoors. The same if you have a cat with a thyroid condition that makes it less tolerant to heat. Keep the temperature between 60 and 68 if you leave them alone. After choosing a temperature in this range you can adjust it later according to your cat’s behavior. If your cat is rolling up too much try to set the temperature on the higher side, close to 70. Every cat is more or less sensitive to cold temperatures, even long-haired cats.
On the other hand, if you have a skinny or short haired small cat you need to provide sources of heat in case your cat needs warmness to keep its body’s temperature during cold weather. If you can afford it, keep the temperature between 78 and 80. If you have a kitten, you need to set the temperature on a higher side and have a heated pet bed to keep it warm if needed.
If you have a long-haired, big sized or overweight cat you may need to leave a temperature about 80 (or below) if your house gets too hot above that temperature. If you can’t afford to leave the air conditioner “on” you can get a cooling pet bed so your feline friend has the chance to cool down if it feels too hot.
If your cat is slim and small or short haired hot temperature won’t bother it too much. Consider a temperature between 85 to 90, but leaving a fan or a window opened, making sure the air circulates. A kitten will tolerate the 90s much better than an adult cat.
ANALYZING YOUR HOME
Cats have their ways to balance their body temperatures, either seeking heat from different sources at home or trying to reach cold areas to cool down. If your home doesn’t provide these elements for your cat to adapt, it will be most likely that your pet will be too hot or too cold at some point.
When cats feel cold, they try to reach higher locations where the sun hits and heat rises. Does your house have high areas where the sun hits so your cat jump on and get warm in case it gets a little chilly? Cats like to seek warmness by staying in high places where they can enjoy the sunlight, next to a window. If your cat doesn’t have access to a window try to get a window perch for your cat. They are easy to install and your cat will have the opportunity to chill, enjoying the sun heat without the need of a cat tree or other piece of furniture. It’s very important for cats to see and feel the sunlight, felines are highly sensitive to the sunlight, to the point of showing signs of depression during winters.
Also, if your house is fully tiled floored make sure to provide enough warm areas where your cat can rest, especially in winters, remember that cats don’t always like to sleep in the same place. Consider a heated pet bed as an option if you have a small, short-haired cat or a kitten.
Think like a cat and you will find ways to provide your pet the elements they need to adapt to the temperature, even if you set the recommended temperature at home when you leave them alone, it is always good to provide your cat extra help in case that temperature doesn’t make your pet feel comfortable.
In summary, together with considering your cat’s characteristics to set the room temperature, make sure your cat has a source of warmness in winter and a cool area in summer when leaving them alone.