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Keeping Your Indoor Cat Warm in Winter

keeping your indoor cat warm in winter

Many cats really enjoy a warm, cozy place to nap. It’s not unusual to walk into a room and find your cat curled up in the sunniest spot. With the approach of colder months, many indoor cats, especially older ones or kitties with arthritis, will seek out the warmest spots in the house.


There are things you can do to help create safe, warm napping areas for your cat. This can be especially helpful for your older cat who may have stiff joints. The comfort of napping on a soft warm bed will ease some of that arthritic pain and stiffness. It’s important though to make sure any heated bedding you create is safe. It’s also important to make sure your cat is able to freely move away from the heat should she get too warm. Cats have very thin skin and it can burn easily.

black cat at window

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Heated Cat Beds

There are several types of heated beds commercially available. Some are semi-enclosed, some are donut shaped and some resemble the typical old-fashioned heating pad. Choose a style based on the type of bedding your cat has previously preferred for sleeping. If your cat likes the warmth of getting completely under your bed covers or likes to be partially hidden when sleeping, then one of the semi-enclosed “A” frame beds may be a good choice for her. Many cats feel more secure when they can feel their backs leaning up against something so if your cat prefers that but doesn’t like to be in a cave-like bed, then one of the donut-shaped beds would work. And, if your cat prefers to sleep all sprawled out then a traditional flat heated bed might be your best option. Pay attention to your cat’s preferences and also the position she typically tends to sleep. If the cat is too stiff to curl in a ball or she can’t step over things then a round, high-sided bed won’t work.

Even if you don’t choose to buy a heated bed, provide your cat with several cozy sleeping options so she can curl up and get away from cold surfaces. The high-sided beds or “A” frame beds work great but even a towel-lined box will be appreciated by your cat. If she’s not very mobile and can’t step over the sides of the box, cut out a low-sided entrance for her.

Safety is obviously most important. Make sure the bed temperature heats up to only the cat’s body temperature. The safest type of bed is one that returns to room temperature when the cat steps off the bed. You also want to look for a bed that has a removable cover for washing. Place beds in elevated locations for added warmth.

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Some cat parents have wrapped heating pads in towels for the cats. If not monitored and kept on the lowest setting, there’s a good chance your cat could get burned. It’s better to invest in a heated bed made especially for pets.

Other Ways to Create Warmth for Your Cat

Your cat probably enjoys sitting at the window to watch the outdoor activity. If there’s a draft there, it’ll be uncomfortable so take care of any leaks, especially at favored window locations. Place a padded window perch at the window so your cat doesn’t have to sit on the cold, hard window sill. There are also heated window perches available.

If you typically lower your thermostat for the times during the day while you’re at work or before you go to bed, remember to take your cat’s comfort into consideration. A healthy cat with a good coat will be fine but an older, thinner or ill cat may be uncomfortable. Be sure to provide warm places within the house or raise your thermostat just enough to take the chill off.

Let Your Cat Take Advantage of the Sun in the Indoor Environment

The image of an indoor cat stretched out and enjoying an afternoon snooze in the path of where the sun comes streaming in the window is a classic. With my cat, she tends to follow the sun as it moves from window to window. There’s one window in one room where the afternoon sun is the strongest so I’ve strategically placed a chair there and that’s where Pearl can be found at the same time every day.

cat on carpet in sun

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Open curtains during the day to let the sun come in and move furniture so your cat can take advantage of the warmth.

Keep Moisture in the Air to Make Your Cat More Comfortable

The air inside the house in the winter can get very dry. A humidifier in the house can help make your cat feel a bit more comfortable and will cut down on static electricity.

Monitor Your Cat’s Calorie Intake

As your cat gets older she may have a change in appetite. It’s important to make sure she’s getting enough calories daily so if there has been a change in appetite, have your cat checked by the veterinarian. An increase in food or a change in the nutritional program may be needed. It’s important to monitor your cat’s food intake and also keep tabs on her weight, especially as she gets older. While some cats gain weight with age, others may lose enough that they have trouble keeping comfortably warm.

Maintain Your Cat’s Activity Levels

Keep up a schedule of daily interactive playtime to keep your cat active. Customize the play session to fit your cat’s state of health and ability, but be faithful about creating some fun on a daily basis. Playtime is beneficial physically and emotionally. Get kitty’s juices flowing so dust off those interactive toys and do a play session today!

cat playing with a toy

Photo: Pexels

The Garage and Basement aren’t Cat-Friendly

Some cat parents set up the cats’ litter boxes in the garage or basement. For an older cat or one who doesn’t handle the cold as well, this can be very uncomfortable when it comes time to take care of personal business. A litter box set up in the warmth of the house is a much better option.

It’s also not a good idea to confine the cat to the garage or basement at night. A cold, damp environment certainly isn’t a comfortable place to sleep.

Think about your own comfort level. If you’re cold or uncomfortable, chances are your cat is as well.

Need More Information?

For more information on cat behavior, care and training, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett. including the latest release, CatWise.

Pam Johnson-Bennett and four books



Pam is unable to respond to questions or remarks posted in the comment section. If you have a question about cat behavior, you can find many answers in the articles Pam writes for the website as well as in her best-selling books.

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