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Do cats need coats in cold weather?

Approx. 3 minutes read

It’s winter time proper in the southern hemisphere. The dog’s got a jacket on and the cat keeps on snuggling up to him. Does this mean she wants a jacket too? Cat outfits have become more and more popular, especially in the USA, but let’s make it clear: cat outfits are only for show, and unless there’s a practical or medical reason why your cat should wear a jersey, she will hate it!

Au caturel

In the wild (i.e. your back garden), cats are predators and prey. They are agile, mostly silent, keen-eyed and quick on their feet. In winter most cats get extra ‘puffy’ when their coat comes in, so nature ensures that your kitty will be warm and comfortable. Making a cat wear a jersey will definitely upset her temperature balance and may even cause her to overheat.

The other reason for not making your cat wear a coat is that if you do, you’ll have a kitty who’s not comfy at all. You’ve probably seen those videos of so-called cat lovers putting jerseys on their cats just for laughs. While it may seem funny or silly when a cat with a jersey on freezes and then falls over, this is an instinctive response and not funny at all.

Feline feelin’ trapped

Cats ‘freeze’ with clothing on them because it messes with their sensory mechanisms. Cats get spatial feedback through their hair and whiskers, so they can be confused by the feedback generated by clothing, giving them the feeling of being encased or ‘surrounded’ on all sides. It’s extremely uncomfortable for most cats. If they don’t simply shut down, there is a very real danger that they will attack the closest person. Beware of this if your young children try to dress the cat.

Let’s face it

If your cat surrenders to the treatment she gets and just wears the jersey, look at her face. Cats’ faces are very expressive and it’s possible to immediately tell if they’re not enjoying wearing clothes. There will also be something in your cat’s expression that shows she’s plotting murder to get back at you for this…

When should cats wear clothes?

Cat coverings have been developed in special cases for hairless (sphynx) cats who may need an extra layer to help keep them warm in winter. Cat clothes are also sometimes used after pet surgery to prevent the cat’s wounds from being scratched or infected. Once the wound has healed, the jersey or covering should be removed so your cat can get back to normal.

So how do I keep my cat warm?

Most cats are self-sufficient. If they’re cold, they will find the warmest spot in the house or go back to bed. To help your cat keep warm, you could raise her bed off the floor and make sure there are no draughts blowing past her favourite sleeping areas. In wintertime, give her a beautifully soft and cosy plush bed (find them here).

And if your cat is lovable and affectionate, she will most likely come and find the warm spot on your lap… then you’ll both be warm!

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