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Home > Cats > Do Cats Eat More Food in Winter? Do They Need More Calories?

Do Cats Eat More Food in Winter? Do They Need More Calories?

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We can all relate to the desire to eat more food when it’s cold outside. There’s something that’s so comforting about the more nutrient-dense foods we often eat in the fall and winter. Have you ever wondered if your cat might want to eat more in the winter, or do you notice their bowl emptying faster than normal? Here’s what you should know!

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Do Cats Eat More Food in Winter?

Yes, cats do eat more food in the wintertime. This increase in calories is more pronounced in outdoor cats that have to work harder to stay warm, but it occurs in indoor cats as well.

Cats have a higher body temperature than humans, which is why you can often find your cat hanging out in the warmest part of the house no matter what time of year it is. Cats have to work harder to maintain their body temperature than humans do as well, and by increasing their food intake in cold months, your cat’s body won’t have to work quite so hard to maintain a safe and comfortable core body temperature.

Should My Cat Eat More Calories?

persian cat eating dry food
Image By: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

If your cat is primarily an outdoor cat, then you should increase its caloric intake during the winter. Some studies have shown that cats eat approximately 15% less in the summer than they do in the winter, so you should increase your cat’s food intake by about 15% in the winter. If your cat is already overweight, though, you should check with your vet before you increase your cat’s food amount.

For indoor cats, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to increase the amount of food your cat eats. Unfortunately, your cat may take it upon themselves to increase the amount of food they’re eating. If your cat is a grazer and is provided with a consistently full bowl of food, you might notice your cat going through their food faster.

It may become necessary for you to more closely manage the amount of food your cat has access to during the winter to prevent unnecessary weight gain. Keep in mind that cats are much smaller than we are, so only a pound or two of body weight can make a significant impact on your cat’s comfort and health.

How Do Indoor Cats Know It’s Winter?

calico cat on window staring at snow
Image By: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Cats don’t just use the outdoor temperature to determine what season it is. Like all animals, cats base their innate knowledge of the season on a combination of temperature and lighting. Even in an indoor-only environment, your cat will have access to external light sources via windows and doors, so they will be able to determine when lighting is from artificial sources and when it’s from the sun.

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Conclusion

Your cat might have the urge to increase how much they eat during the winter, just like you do. For indoor cats, an increase in the number of calories is usually not necessary. If you do increase the calories your cat has access to every day, make sure the increase is minimal enough that it won’t lead to significant weight gain.

For outdoor cats, you likely do need to increase how much food your cat can access by about 15% to ensure they are able to keep their body temperature high enough to stay comfortable.


Featured Image Credit: BestDeals, Shutterstock

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