Maine Coon outside in the cold

Can Maine Coons Stay Outside in the Cold?

Living in Thailand, this isn’t a question I have to deal with on a regular basis. Nevertheless, as a breed that may have originated in Maine, it is a relevant question for owners.

The Maine Coons’ size and fur make them appear like they are very resistant to cold. This is true, Maine Coons tolerate cold temperatures better than other breeds and it’s okay to allow them outside during winter. Nevertheless, when the temperatures are too low (below 32°), your Maine Coon may not like to be kept outside

During the cold season, you may also notice some changes in your Maine Coon’s behavior; most of them aren’t cause of any concern, but still, knowing some tips and notions can help you take the best care of your Maine Coon during the winter season.

a tabby maine coon sitting in the snow

Maine Coons and Cold Weather

Every cat owner knows that cats look like they’re super sensitive to the cold: every heat source seems to be the perfect spot for their long cat naps. Warm blankets, computers, radiators, and how to forget our cats curled on top of old TVs, when TVs used to be thicker than half an inch. Cats have a body temperature of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just higher than humans’, but we seem to tolerate cold better than them. Nevertheless, there are some breeds that, because of their origin and features, can tolerate cold better than others. Maine Coon is one of them.

Maine Coon cats are large and they have a very thick coat and water-resistant fur that enables them to withstand harsh climates. They also have large tufted paws to keep from freezing their feet, and large and bushy tails that they can wrap around their bodies and protect their face and ears. Thanks to all of these features, Maine Coons are well protected against cold temperatures and can be allowed outside during the winter season.

When Cold is Too Cold For Your Maine Coon?

Despite Maine Coons’ features make them able to tolerate harsh climates, when the temperature dips below freezing (32° F) it could be too cold for them outside. With such temperatures, even if your Maine Coon is allowed outside, you should always ensure they can have easy access to a warm shelter.

Age Impact on Cold Tolerance

Despite Maine Coons have extra protection from the cold, you should, in any case, consider their age and health.

As cats age, they tend to lose body fat which makes them get cold easier. Just like people, also, they get stiff joints in cold weather. Kittens also become chilled easier than older cats – that’s why mother cats are always worrying about keeping them warm with their bodies. If you’ve brought home a kitten in the cold season, you’ll need to provide him or her with warmth through a blanket or your own human body.

Both elderly cats and kittens have weakened immune systems and can get sick more easily when the temperatures drop, so you must always ensure to keep them cozy and warm.

While making all your effort to keep your cat warm, though, you should never let them become overheated: if you notice your Maine Coon moving to a cooler place, it’s because they’re too warm.

a white maine coon sitting on a branch in the snow

How To Tell If Your Maine Coon Is Cold?

When a cat feels chilly, they usually head for the warmest place in the house. There are some signs that you can notice that can tell you when your cat hasn’t found a spot that’s warm enough and he or she is feeling uncomfortable with the cold. In these cases, you want to intervene and provide your Maine Coon with a blanket, a warm shelter, or a warm hug.

  • Cold to the touch. Just like it happens for humans, when a cat’s body is exposed to the cold, all the heat is focused and used to warm their internal organs, so that their extremities are the first to get colder. Therefore, when your cat is cold, their ears, footpads and the tip of their tail feel cold to the touch.
  • Curling up. If you notice your Maine Coon sleeping in a tight ball with their tail and paws underneath their body, there are good chances that he or she is feeling cold. In fact, Maine Coons usually don’t like to sleep in this position.
  • Seeking for body contact. When your cat is cold he or she tends to seek body contact with you or other cats.

There are also other signs that are important to notice: when you see one of these behaviors in your cat, he/she may already be in the beginning stage of hypothermia:

  • Shivering;
  • Slow and shallow or labored breathing;
  • Lethargy;
  • Stiff movements;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Low heart rate.

If your cat exhibits these symptoms, you should immediately contact your vet.

How Cold Temperature Can Affect Your Maine Coon’s Behaviour

  1. During winter your Maine Coon can become more affectionate: they are enjoying your warmth. Sharing body heat is a classic winter behavior for most animals, including cats.
  2. During the cold season, they tend to sleep more. Cats are likely to sleep more during the winter months, so you shouldn’t be alarmed until your cat sleeping becomes so extended that they start missing meals or refuse to play.
  3. They usually don’t mate during winter. This is something that is due to the amount of daylight more than the cold temperature. Cats, in fact, need 12 hours of daylight to initiate the heat cycle. The main purpose of that is to ensure kittens are not born during winter when it’s for more difficult for them to survive.

a tabby maine coon prowling in the snow

Caring For Maine Coons In The Cold

  1. Cold Weather Diet: Just like humans, cats burn a lot of calories to stay warm in cold weather. Maine Coons don’t require a special diet during cold seasons, but they may ask for slightly more food than usual. Just avoid giving them too large portions that can make them gain weight.
  1. Sweater: Some hairless breeds may need a sweater during the coldest days, but this is not the case for Maine Coons. The problem with sweaters is overheating – while cats can leave their bed when it becomes too warm, they can find themselves trapped in a sweater and be unable to cool themselves.
  1. Be Careful When Using Antifreeze: The cold seasons often brings the necessity of adding antifreeze to your car. If your radiator leaks, antifreeze can end up on your garage floor. Antifreeze often contains ethylene glycol, which has a sweet taste that can attract cats and other animals, but it’s extremely poisonous to them. If your cat ingests even a small quantity of antifreeze it can cause severe harm. Consider using nontoxic antifreeze compounds in your car’s radiator.
  1. Take Care When Starting The Car: Many small animals, including cats, take refuge under the hood – where the engine ignites you can easily imagine what it might happen. Bang on the hood to warm them before firing up your vehicle so that they can have the chance to leave.
  1. Careful On Car Rides: Cats aren’t in the car often, but it can happen sometimes. If you need to make any stops, don’t leave your Maine Coon alone with the car off. It could get really cold really fast.
  1. Watch Out For Salt And De-icers: During the coldest periods of the year, many streets got spread with salt or de-icers. Salt exposure on cats paw pods can lead to painful chemical burns. Also, licking rock salt off their paws, as cats are prone to do, can lead to burns lead to the mouth and throat, but also to dehydration, kidney failure or pancreatitis.

How To Keep Your Maine Coon Warm

  • Whether your Maine Coon is still a kitten or an elderly cat, you should provide them with a warm bed or blanket that they can easily find and reach. Your Maine Coon can easily learn that that is his/her spot, and they can even become affectionate to their blanket.
  • If your Maine Coon is really young, or whether he/she has some health issue, you can also provide them with a warming pad or a heated pad (you can find them in any pet stores). Be always careful not to set them on high and leave them unsupervised.
  • Provide your Maine Coon with some toys that can encourage them to run and play and thus stay warmer. Take some time to play with your Maine Coon: not only he or she will get warm but it can be also a way to make them exercise during the period of the year when they’re less active.
  • Since heat rises, the high places are the warmest in your home. Provide your Maine Coon with a cat tree or prepare a cozy spot for them in the high places of the house where they are allowed.

 

Increase cuddle time during the colder months. Not only it will keep your Maine Coon warmer but it will also provide both with quiet quality time together.

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