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Does a Cat Gain Weight in the Winter

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

cold cat in snow

If you’ve lived with a cat for more than a few years, you might have noticed your feline loved one putting on weight in the winter and losing the pounds when the weather warms up. While some of that might be attributable to the amount you’re feeding your pet, you might also be wondering if cats tend to gain weight during the cold winter months. It’s normal for domestic cats to put on a few pounds when the weather is cold outside. However, the trend is most likely due to a decrease in activity more so than any biological tendency to gain weight when the temperatures drop.

So Why Does My Cat Gain Weight During the Winter?

Cats, just like humans, usually gain weight during the winter because of two tendencies: a desire to eat more to help with energy production and a corresponding decrease in movement. Domestic cats will increase their food consumption to get more calories to support temperature regulation in a cold environment. If your cat feels uncomfortably cold in your home, they’ll most likely seek warm places to hang out and increase their food intake. Eating a few more treats and sitting by the radiator are the feline equivalents of the human tendency to drink hot cocoa in front of a cozy fire.

Cats that are used to going outside during temperate weather are often dismayed when temperatures drop and will only hit the fresh air for limited, short periods of time, which ultimately reduces the amount of exercise they get.

Maine Coon cat sits on snowy frozen path
Image Credit: Konstantin Zaykov, Shutterstock

Does My Cat’s Metabolism Decrease During the Winter?

Yes. Most mammals have a slight metabolic dip during the winter months that leads to a bit of sluggishness. In reality, the increase in food intake and decrease in activity levels leads to weight gain during the colder months of the year.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Limit My Cat’s Weight Gain?

Absolutely! Your cat needs to eat healthy meals that respond to their caloric needs and get sufficient exercise. High-quality cat foods usually come with feeding instructions on the bag, and most have information about how to tweak the amount you give your pet if they need to gain weight or drop a few pounds. Measuring your cat’s food is a great way to keep their weight under control during the fall and winter.

Ensuring your pet gets enough physical activity will go a long way to keeping it healthy and reasonably trim. Most healthy adult cats need at least two 15-minute play sessions daily to get the proper mental and physical stimulation.

Are There Other Ways To Keep My Cat Comfortable During the Winter?

Extra blankets are a great option that allows your cat to snuggle and stay warm when you’re gone. If you have a radiator, consider putting a cat bed close by so your cat can access a warm place when you’re not at home. As long as your cat exercises every day and maintains a healthy diet, it’s unlikely to gain an excessive amount of weight.


Featured Image Credit: hitryuga, Shutterstock

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