Yes, unquestionably, domestic cats feel the cold and cold objects. My first argument is that if cats feel the warmth then they must be able to feel the cold. We know that cats like to go to warm places. We all know that cats like warmth. They sit in the sun. They go to the airing cupboard where the boiler is. They sit on your lap. They come under the covers in bed at night. They feel the warmth and are attracted to it. Therefore we have to conclude that cats feel the cold because they feel the temperature and the effect that it has upon them.
Secondly, I ran a little test today. Early this morning my kitchen counter was a bit cold because it’s made of stone and its cold outside. I eat breakfast at the kitchen counter. I put down a folded-over tablecloth and my newspaper to read while I ate breakfast. Immediately Gabriel, my cat, who was on the counter at the time, came over and sat on the tablecloth. He had a choice. He could have sat where he was on the cold stone counter but he chose to walk over to the much warmer tablecloth. A simple test if we need one (and we don’t). Clearly he could feel the cold stone on his paws and on his bottom and instinctively chose a more comfortable place to sit because it was warmer. So cats do feel cold both in terms of ambient temperature and in terms of being in contact with cold objects. Here is the photographic evidence!:
Some people would question why the topic even needs discussing. You could argue that it is obvious that domestic cats feel the cold because they have a nervous system much like ours and their anatomy is very similar to ours. They have feelings and can feel pain and therefore logically they feel the cold. But I think the question is quite a good one which is why I am endeavoring to answer it.
This is because it seems to me that domestic cats are more tolerant of the cold. Cats are more enduring of it. It would seem to me that they process the uncomfortableness of cold in a different way to humans. There is an inbuilt acceptance. It’s a bit like wild animals dealing with cold. Take foxes for example. They live outside all year round and have no place to retreat to to get warm other than their den which can’t be that warm. They tolerate the cold and live with it. Domestic cats are very close to the wild in their mentality, we know that.
I think that this tolerance of cold is in place because the domestic cat is still essentially a wild creature but there is no question that cats feel the cold and perhaps their domestication makes them more sensitive to it. Many people who love cats in general and specifically feral cats prepare homemade, insulated boxes into which a feral cat can retreat when it is particularly cold during the winter.
This extreme stoicism and tolerance for the cold is seen in stray and feral cats who are caught in extremely cold weather when they develop frostbite in their paws and their ears. I’ve seen this on the Internet and in one story a cat rescuer had to chip the cat out of ice because their paws were frozen into it. It sounds horrendous and it is horrendous but the cat tolerated it but lost her paws to frostbite. It’s about tolerance and how the brain processes the pain and uncomfortableness of extreme low temperatures.
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