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How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs and Cats?

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How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs and Cats?



By Dr. Patty Khuly, PetMD

It’s cold today in Miami. OK, maybe not according to the standards held by anyone who happens to live north of Florida, but chilly for us nonetheless. This is perhaps why we’re so weird about our pets and cold weather. We’re just not used to it, so we get a tad freaky about it.

As in this question asked by a Miami Herald reader, followed by my answer, published over the weekend in advance of this sub-freezing-temp cold front:

Q: I take care of a number of outdoor cats, who aren’t always around for me to bring in when it gets cold outside. When the news media tells us to bring all our pets indoors on chilly nights, I worry desperately for my babies. I’ve been wondering whether they’re suffering, and what your opinion is on what temperature is absolutely too low for cats.

See Also: 10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm in Cold Weather

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety, , , ,

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petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


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1:29PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013


8:15AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:49AM PST on Nov 29, 2012


I should have also added that if a cat usually gets let in, it may sit at the door mewing all night instead of going to find shelter. So unless your porch is well sheltered from wind and rain, an indoor/outdoor kitty shouldn't be left out when you go away overnight in cold weather.

11:44AM PST on Nov 29, 2012

In addition to fur it is important to remember that the layer of fat under a dog or cat's skin is a vital part of their insulation, so you may have an elderly pet that still has a beautifully thick coat of fur, but does not have the "blubber" they need to keep warm in a cold climate.

I highly doubt Miami ever gets cold enough to endanger cats, unless they are sick or very elderly. I live in Michigan - temps WELL below freezing most winter nights - and there are feral cats that survive the winter with no help from humans whatsoever.

Dogs could be in danger because there is less shelter available to them, being both too big to fit in most places a cat might find shelter, and often confined to a specific yard.

6:57AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

cats are very good at taking care of themselves, dogs on the other hand will sit out in the wind and snow waiting for its human to take pity on it. me thinks they are too confident of our care. not sure if this is a good thing or not.

5:38PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

Thanks for sharing with us!

11:40AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Thank you for sharing!

10:35AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

thanks for sharing

2:33AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

thanks for sharing

7:12PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

my stupid neighbor keeps his dog tied up outside 24/7. today i finally convinced him to let me keep his dog @my house until hurricane Sandy passes. i call him stupid because he is; believe me, i'm being nice.

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