Do Cats Like Snow?


Do Cats Like Snow?

Wondering if Snowflake likes snowflakes? Here’s what the experts had to say when we asked “do cats like snow?” janelle leeson
janelle leeson By Janelle Leeson January 06, 2022 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print cat walking through snow
cat walking through snow Credit: Cyndi Monaghan / Getty

Dogs frolic, bounce, and wag around in the snow, but would cats share this same admiration if given the chance? Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist tells Scientific American that a dog's childlike wonder of snow could be an inherent behavior. Dogs are predators and, unlike prey, embrace change. A fresh blanket of snow is the change that a doggo craves, and transforms a boring ol' backyard with new smells, sights, and feels.

Our feline friends are historically both predator and prey. They typically don't do well with change, but sure are curious about everything. So, we wondered, do cats share a curiosity of snow or despise the cold, wet stuff that changes their familiar landscape? Here's what the experts had to say when we asked, "do cats like snow?"

Do Some Cats Like Playing in the Snow?

If given the chance, would your indoor kitty dive paws first in a pile of snow? Probably not, says Stephen Zawistowski Ph.D., CAAB Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College. "I would not suggest tossing your happy house cat out into the snow as a form of enrichment. Most cats do not seem to enjoy getting wet, so snow may not be a positive experience for them," Zawistowski explains. Unlike some breeds of dogs, our happy house cats descend from cat ancestors that originally inhabited hot, dry habitats. It's simply not in a cat's genetics to live in a cold, snowy environment.

But, says Erin Katribe, DVM, Medical Director of Best Friends Animal Society, it's important to remember that every cat is an individual. No matter a cat's breed, they will have different preferences when it comes to food, toys, and the liking of snow. There are some real cool cats that like snow (see Gary the Adventure Cat), but for other house cats, snow is a "nope".

RELATED: Watch This Adorable Golden Retriever Take His Cat Friend on a Sweet Sleigh Ride Through the Snow

Can I Train My Cat to Like the Snow?

If you've successfully introduced your adventurous feline to a leash and harness for exploring the outdoors, she might be up for becoming familiar with the snow, too. Using positive reinforcement training, Katribe suggests starting with small, short adventures and pairing the snowy adventure with something positive like her favorite treat.

If the great outdoors doesn't make your cat purr, she can still experience the wonders of winter in her own feline way. By installing a cat window perch, your cat can gaze over her snowy domain. Or, bring the outdoors to her with a bathtub full of snow to paw around in.

Should You Let Your Cat Go Outside When It’s Cold?

When it comes to letting your cat roam the outdoors (any time of year) it's best to weigh the pros and cons. "Cats are somewhat adapted to cooler temperatures and snow, more than humans, given characteristics like their furry coats," says Katribe. But, she warns, no matter how floofy they might be, there are still cold weather risks.

"In cold temperatures, cats and humans are at risk for hypothermia," Katribe explains. "Frostbite is another risk; this occurs when portions of the body freeze." Most at risk of getting cold quickly are your cat's little ears and paws. Below Katribe has some ways to keep your feline safe and warm.

How to Keep Your Cat’s Paws Safe in the Snow

It can be tough to tell how cold is too cold for your cat. So, Katribe suggests, consider your comfort in a similar situation, especially for vulnerable areas like their paws, noses, and ears. "If you're uncomfortable keeping your bare hand in the snow or having portions of your face exposed to the air and wind, then it's potentially too cold for your cat to enjoy those conditions, and it may even be dangerous," Katribe says.

When in doubt, opt for winter-friendly cat gear—if your cat will abide. Sweaters, fleeces, and waterproof jackets are all great options. And when it comes to caring for their paws after a day in the snow, Katribe says not to miss wiping off each little toe bean. "Snow, especially in urban areas, can contain harmful contaminants, and so it's important to wipe off paws and fur when cats return inside from walking or playing in the snow," Katribe explains.

Where Do Stray Cats Go When It Snows?

When not foraging for a meal, outdoor cats can typically be found in the warmest places they can find, Zawistowski says. Unfortunately, that warm place is often under the hood of a car. A simple way to avoid injuring these kitties taking a warm catnap, Katribe says, is to bang on the hood of your car before starting it.

If there is a stray cat (or two) that likes to call your yard their home or you have a free-roaming housecat, you might be wondering how you can keep her warm this winter. Cat lovers everywhere can take a page out of Boy Scout Tyrell Cooper's book by providing DIY "feline abodes." Or, purchase a top-of-the-line cat house that is sure to keep any wandering felines safe and warm all winter long.

To learn more about how you can help feral animals in your community this winter and all year round, reach out to local organizations and check out these tips for catching stray cats who are in danger or need medical attention.

RELATED: The Best Heated Cat Houses

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