How can we keep our cat comfortably warm at night?
October 29, 2020 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to explore solutions for keeping my ageing cat warm at night.

Our cat has his own room and gets shut in at night since he is an early riser and won't allow my partner to sleep if he can help it. The only room we can put him in at night isn't very warm. He is getting on and we are concerned he is getting stiffer in the mornings. He has quite a lot in the way of blankets and cushions, even an igloo bed he won't use. He hates having anything covering him, so just tucking him in is out. We would like to work something out to let him have some more warmth. What are our options? What is your experience with using particular options?

We are a bit uncertain about having an electrically heated pad on under his bed all night. We would consider getting a cheap microwave to heat a rice bag. Anything else we should consider?
posted by biffa to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've been using these for years - in fact, there's one on my desk right now. They don't get above body-heat temperature and they're designed to run continuously, and I have not had a problem at all, other than preventing the cats from getting territorial about them. My elderly cat adored hers til the end of her life and spent both winters and (to her mind) excessively air-conditioned summers on it.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: they make heated cat beds. a friend had one for her kitties and they loved it so much.
posted by supermedusa at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2020 [9 favorites]

Our cat LOVES his little heat reflecting mats. Our cat too does not prefer to be tucked in, but he will drag these around to ideal corners, and we've tucked them into the bottom of regular catbeds with great success. (we have seen him end up underneath one as well, but we're not sure if that was part of an elaborate catplan, or things went wrong and he gave up)
posted by larthegreat at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2020 [7 favorites]

How about a plug-in portable heater in his room? We have both a micathermic heater and an oil-filled heater that are used in two separate rooms that are cold during the winter. Our cat loves to sleep right beside them (when he is not sleeping on my chest or face). I guess infrared heaters are most efficient but we, and our cat, have no experience with those.
posted by Kabanos at 12:32 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Snuggle Safe is a hard disc filled with paraffin, or some such. You put it in the microwave, like a bag of rice, but it stays warm for up to 10 hours. It doesn't get hot-hot, but the real advantage is not having to plug it in. It's waterproof and can be used anywhere. It's like a hot water bottle that lasts a really long time, even outdoors!
posted by irisclara at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I also use the Snuggle Safe for cat beds that aren't near an outlet and sometimes near my feet in bed when it's cold. The heat in them lasts nearly a full day. Be careful when warming them in powerful microwaves - I use half power now because there's a wax element in them that broke through when I microwaved one at full power.
posted by answergrape at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I got my cat a heated cat bed the winter we lived in apartment with no insulation -- it only heated up when there was weight on it, so if he got up and went for a wander, the heating mechanism would stop. Highly, highly recommend.

(Of course he completely ignored it, but I used it as a foot-warmer and it was great! Warm but not hot and very cozy.
posted by kalimac at 12:40 PM on October 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: My sister's elderly arthritic cat loved his heated cat bed (like above, it only warmed up when he was on it). My mom got it because he had started sitting on my sister's lap top anytime it was out.
posted by ghost phoneme at 12:45 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have the K&H plug-in warmers as well - they've worked great for several years and several cats. No safety issues with winter-long use. (Year-round for my very senior cat.) When it gets too warm for them, the cats find other places to sleep.
posted by mersen at 12:45 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I keep my aging cat heated with a warming pad designed for a cat (I never turn it off) she can come and go from it as she pleases and a small space heater kept on low. I turn the space heater on and off as needed. She also hates to have blankets on her - try as I might to tuck her in. These small things really help her c-attitude.
posted by rdnnyc at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: K&H Lectro-Soft mats. Currently very pricey direct from the K&H website, but more reasonable from Amazon. They are thermostatically controlled to maintain a safe temp (cat body temp). Cord is steel-wrapped to prevent the cat from chewing it.

K&H has some other less-pricey styles that do not use the steel-wrapped cord. I feel much safer with it.

My two older kitties adore their cat-warmers. They actually prefer sleeping on the mat to sleeping on me!
posted by snowmentality at 12:55 PM on October 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I bought the K&H Thermo Kitty cat bed for my friend’s aging cat. She loves it. Won’t get off it and won’t let the other cat on it. It doesn’t get really hot like a heating pad. It is more like the heat the cat gets from sitting on a human’s lap. I see it is on sale for $23 from Walmart mail order. Free shipping if you buy $35 worth of stuff.
posted by KayQuestions at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This isn't exactly a recommendation, as I'm unclear of the safety, but my mom had a heating pad on low (or low-medium?) on the seat of our elderly cat's armchair. He wasn't allowed upstairs at night for much the same reason as your cat. This went on for maybe 4 years, and no fires were started, the house never burned down, etc.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:11 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use the K&H warmers recommended above. They don't get hot like a heat pad for a human, and actually kind of need weight on them heat up.
posted by wwax at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used a heating pad at a low temperature (with a towel on top of it) to help my silver tuxedo make it to 19 years of age. He loved it.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hot water bottle. You can use an ordinary water bottle and hot tap water and it stays warm for @ 6 hours; I use an old scout canteen. Or get a proper hot water bottle. Those electric ones look pretty sweet, tho.
posted by theora55 at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Our very old cat was fond of sitting in front of a small electric radiant heater. Bolting it to the wall outside of the cat's reach so that it can't possibly fall over or catch fire might be a good idea if nobody's around.
posted by eotvos at 3:35 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, a safe space heater setup with a built-in thermostat might be nice.

Would he like a warm friend? It's something to think about. A cat fostering organization might have a super cuddly cat-loving cat or dog that would love to snuggle up with your kitty.
posted by amtho at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We would love to get him a warm friend, but all the evidence points towards him not playing well with other moggies. He's a people cat not a cat cat.

Many thanks everyone for all the advice, we are leaning towards the snuggle safe microwaveable pad, which was something we didn't know about before and is one up on the rice bag where our main concern was how long it held heat. We have tried him with hot water bottle before and he wasn't a fan.
posted by biffa at 5:03 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My girl has some heated cat beds around - she likes the flattest one best and definitely seeks it out as a warm place. It is just permanently plugged in.
posted by janell at 6:47 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I encourage an actual heated cat bed rather a microwaveable option because they are extremely safe, use very little electricity, and because it would allow an older cat to seek the heat they need at all times of day. Cats have low body temps, and there is a reason they gravitate towards warmer spots even when young and robust. Consider a heated spot for your cat that doesnt depend on you remembering to microwave it, or that's only available at night-- your older cat will appreciate it.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:34 AM on October 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We've had this plug-in K&H heated cat bed for several years and it's great. (It's probably the same one people are talking about above, that only warms when the cat is actually in it.) It doesn't get hot, just warm, which is plenty and our cat loves it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:22 AM on October 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do the K&H. Just do it.

You can plug it in, and not have to maintain it like the snuggle safe microwaveable pad. I personally think that pad would be better than nothing at all, but ultimately your cat is going to have to rely on you to remember to reheat it every 10 hours, and it is going to have a variable temperature.

The K&H is always at the same, safe, very gentle, maintained temperature 24 hours a day. I have used them for over a decade with absolutely no problems. You can use the pad, and put it right under their existing blanket, and that way they don't have to adjust to a new bed. The only time our cats don't want to sleep on them is in the hottest part of the summer, otherwise, they are on them all of the time.
posted by nanook at 7:36 AM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I second everyone's recommendation of a heated cat bed (either plugged in or self-heated) as opposed to having to heat something up in the microwave or fill with hot water every night, as someone pointed out they might want something warm during the day.

I would NOT recommend getting something like the one linked 2 replies above because it is fully enclosed...if your cat is one that enjoys to lay out, that design is not best for them. The only way they can lay in it is by squishing their body (which many cats love), they can't stretch out like on a flat surface. We bought two of those exact ones for our cats expecting them to love it, and they maybe used it twice and never again...but our cats are floppers. They would much rather lay out on a bathmat than curl up like a roly poly (YMMV). Any of the others linked that are completely flat sound like good options. Good luck!
posted by andruwjones26 at 4:13 PM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

With something microwavable, I'd be concerned about the item getting too hot and burning the cat. Unless you're paying close attention every time, I think that's a real risk. I also second the idea of something that is constantly warm (or warm on demand) rather than something that you yourself have to heat up for the cat. Our elderly cat spent most of the day on the heating pad, and I think it really improved his quality of life.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:12 PM on October 31, 2020

Response by poster: Hi all, we sat down and went through the comments and we have succumbed to peer pressure and scrubbed the microwaveable pad and gone with the K&H heated indoor cat bed. Our cat likes to curl up so that should suit. We were a bit reticent as he never goes into his bedroom apart from at night so he's unlikely to wander in during the day, he has a wealth of options around the house. But we like the idea of consistent heat and he might change his habits I guess.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments.
posted by biffa at 10:44 AM on November 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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