Burmese-cross cat lying on fluffy rug, looking into camera

Do cats get the winter blues?

Winter brings cold temperatures, dark evenings and unusual weather for pets, like snow and hail. 

Humans are often affected by the change in the seasons, with some suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But what about our cats? Does winter affect their habits and mood in the same way as us?

Can cats get SAD?

It’s unclear as to whether or not cats suffer with SAD. This condition is hard to diagnose in humans and so would prove even more difficult when looking at our pets.

Many owners have reported that their cats sleep more and can sometimes lose their appetite, however this is more likely to be linked with our change in routine during winter, than that of SAD.

What could be causing my cat to act differently?

People are affected by the lack of sunlight during the winter months and, with cats also being mammals, it is possible, though not scientifically proven, that cats may also adjust their habits and behaviours during this season. 

However, it’s more likely that cats will be using their natural instinct to store their energy to conserve fat reserves for the winter – which is why you may notice them sleeping more.

How to make your cat’s winter better

While it’s unclear whether it’s directly the weather that impacts your cat’s mood during the winter months, there are things you can do to make their winter more comfortable.

Games and enrichment

Cats love to play, and it’s especially important for indoor cats who rely on their owners for entertainment.

Playing games and enriching your cat’s environment is always a good idea, and especially so in winter when they may be wanting to stay indoors more. There are lots of different toys to suit your cat’s play style and this not only gives you the opportunity to bond with your cat, but to boost their mood too.

Keeping meal times interesting will help to switch up your cat’s routine. Puzzle feeders, like food balls, are perfect for keeping busy brains concentrated.

Warmth

Most cats prefer to snuggle up during the winter, so having lots of comfy, warm spots around the house for them to curl up in is ideal.
On particularly cold days, it may be best to keep your cat indoors. Many cats aren’t used to extreme cold weather conditions and can develop hypothermia and frostbite.
 

— Page last updated 05/02/2020

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