Dear Ms. Kitty,
My cat Sophie is 12 and very thin. She sleeps under the covers at night, but I worry about her staying warm during the day when I am not home, and the thermostat is set for 65 degrees. She seems fine on days when she can follow the sunbeams from window to window. On cloudy days she doesn’t eat well and doesn’t want attention.
Chilly on Chelton
As the temperatures drop and we conserve energy by turning down our thermostats, many cats start seeking warm spots to rest. Some cats have a hard time regulating their body temperature. Young kittens and senior cats, cats with health issues, cats with sparse coats and cats that are underweight are more likely to need temperature support.
If Sophie sleeps under the covers and is 12 years old and underweight, she would benefit from having warm places to rest. As a bonus, beds can make great holiday gifts for your kitty!
Some people find their routine disturbed by their cat seeking warmth. Many cats like to sleep around their person’s head since a lot of heat is released there.
Cats are also found sleeping on laptops or other electrical devices to soak up the warmth. Giving Sophie her own warm bed can minimize disruptions in your life so everyone is happy!
Consider the type of places Sophie currently chooses to rest and enhance them to give her extra warmth. If she is happy under the covers, she might like a bed that surrounds her.
Look for places where the sun provides warmth and install a window hammock or a cat tree. If you cat gravitates to heat registers, consider a raised bed or wicker basket that allows warm air to circulate.
Heated Pet Beds
A heated pet bed is a safe way to keep Sophie comfortable. If Sophie is in a confined space, she should have room to move away from the bed if she gets too warm.
The surface of the bed will be slightly above ambient air temperature until she lies on the bed. Then it will warm to her natural body temperature.
You might think the bed isn’t working at first because it doesn’t feel hot. Only when the cat is laying in it can you feel the increased temperature.
Self-Heating Pet Beds
These beds have insulation or special material to reflect Sophie’s body heat back to her. The self-warming material is metalized plastic, like in space blankets.
Some are designed to create a hut, pod or sack that holds the warmth around your cat. These are a great solution when you don’t have an outlet handy.
Natural Felted Wool Fiber Beds
Wool can be a very warm material for cat beds, and you can buy felted wool cat caves or recycle a wool sweater into a great warm bed. You can find instructions for DIY Huggy Beds here.
Caution: Please don’t use electric blankets or heating pads as they are not safe for cats. These products can get too hot and most now have automatic safety shut-offs that will leave Sophie without warmth.
Cats love to have options so let Santa help you provide a few different spots that will help Sophie stay warm and cozy. I have several beds in a grouping: some heated, some self-warming and some just soft bedding. My cats frequently move between these sleeping spots until they find the one that’s juuuust right!
Melissa Shandley is one of the founders of Happy Cats Haven, a Cat Behavior Consultant and Cat Care Provider.
Thanks also to to Life After 50 for publishing our monthly Ask Ms Kitty column.