EyeSee Microstock/Fotolia

At What Temperature Is It Dangerous For A Cat To Go Outside? They Can Only Handle So Much Of The Freezing Temps

Ad failed to load

The winter season presents serious dangers for our furry friends, and outdoor and indoor pets alike need some extra TLC this time of year. Frostbite, anti-freeze, and the surprisingly dangerous hoods of cars can all make your winter wonderland an inhospitable place for those exploring it on four legs. If your cat likes to roam the great outdoors, you might wonder, at what temperature is it dangerous for a cat to go outside? According to PetMD, the number depends, in part, on the health and habits of the cat. Generally speaking however, if you wouldn't feel safe outside, then your cat isn't, either.

"During the winter months, the number of calls received by the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Department concerning animals being left outside spikes," writes the Pennsylvania SPCA in an email to Romper. Pennsylvania takes winter very seriously, and their Humane Law Enforcement Team even ventures out in frigid temperatures to enforce cruelty codes. "Despite their fur coats, dogs and cats are susceptible to cold temperatures just like people. While dogs and some cats may like to spend time outside in all kinds of weather, we strongly recommend that pets' time outside is limited during these extreme temperatures. If you're cold, a good rule of thumb is that your pets will be cold, too."

Ad failed to load

However, if you're the owner of an indoor/outdoor cat, and you're looking for a specific number, Jennifer L. Summerfield, DVM CPDT-KA, of Brown Veterinary Service in Wayne, West Virginia, tells Romper in an interview that temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit aren't ideal for feline friends.

"It's always a little bit hard to give super general guidelines, because some of it is going to depend on the cat’s body condition and whether they’re acclimated to being outside or not," Summerfield explains. "But less than 45 degrees, I tell my clients it's best to keep cats inside if they can." While she notes that it's not necessarily dangerous for a cat to be outside below that temperature as long as they have an insulated shelter to go to, it's not comfortable, either.

What about neighborhood cats, community cats, and strays? If you or your kids are interested in lending them a helping hand, consider building a few DIY cat shelters, like this one from Neighborhood Cats, out of cardboard, Tupperware, or other household materials. Distribute them throughout the neighborhood for a family-friendly good deed.

Ad failed to load

"The biggest thing is you want the shelter to be dry and protected from the wind," says Summerfield, whose book Train Your Dog Now! comes out in March 2018. She goes on to note that a shelter can make a difference to stray animals even when temperatures drop below zero — though it's certainly not ideal for any domestic animal to be out in such weather. "I’ve definitely had clients who make shelters like that and leave them on their porch for neighborhood cats and stray cats, and the cats do seem to be super appreciative — especially here in West Virginia, where its in the single digits," she says.


Still, when it comes to your cat, it's best to get them inside in winter months. After all, even a relatively warm day can take a turn for the worse when the wind picks up. "We always recommend keeping pets indoors whenever possible. If it’s cold outside to you, then it’s cold outside to your pets," explains Gretchen Pressley of the Pikes Peak Region Humane Society in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "And if there are outside cats in your neighborhood, we recommend banging on the hood of your car before starting it up in the morning." After you turn your car off, the hood remains warm — a tempting place to huddle for any stray or community cat. Banging on the hood can prevent outdoor cats from being injured.

Ad failed to load

Additionally, Pressley advises cleaning up anti-freeze spills immediately, because anti-freeze is extremly poisonous to cats, dogs, and wildlife in general.

In short, your cat may seem like a feline superhero, but she is just as susceptible to cold temperatures as you are — and that goes double for kittens and elderly animals. Even indoor cats can use a little extra looking after in the bitter nights of winter. According to Pressley, you should always make sure they have a warm place inside to sleep, away from chilly drafts. Personally, my cat never fails to find the coziest spot by the fire.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills