A warm blanket and a hot mug of tea may be among life's greatest pleasures. We know that tea is not good for kitties to drink, but how about a blanket? It's a common question from new cat dads and kitty moms: Do cats need blankets?
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If you're also wondering if a new blanket will make your cat purr? According to the research, it most likely will!
Do cats really need blankets?
No, cats do not need blankets. They are not a necessity. Both indoor and outdoor cats will intuitively seek warmth when they are cold — heating vents, laptops, and kitchen counters are all fair game for a chilly kitty hoping to warm up.
However, most cats do like blankets. Blankets are a source of warmth, a place to hide and express playful behaviors, and they remind your cat of their favorite person (spoiler: it's you!).
Why cats like blankets
Cats like blankets because they offer warmth, safety, and a connection with their favorite humans.
Even if you never formally present your cat with their own blanket, they will adopt one, if not all, of your household blankets.
Not only does your kitty look adorable snuggling into a blanket, but your clever cat is also using it to help them efficiently regulate their core temperature by retaining body heat.
Your cat's normal body temperature is somewhere between 99 - 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 - 39.2 degrees Celsius), according to the "Merck Veterinary Manual" (Merck 2021). The exact temperature is determined by your cat's age, size and weight.
So a cat blanket isn't just a prop for your Instagram star's February photoshoot, it's a useful everyday pet accessory.
Just like humans enjoy snuggling into a soft blanket at the end of the day, cats welcome the comfort of a cuddle, too.
Blankets make your kitty feel safe, secure, and even playful. (Seriously, watch yourself whenever you get in bed with a cat is around.)
Feeling safe is among your cat's primary concerns, and they will spend most of their days watching for threats to both territory and food supply. At least, this is what one Swiss study discovered when observing the human-cat interactions in the home setting.
So when your cat burrows into a blanket or plops themselves down on top of one, they may be reconnecting with a behavior that makes them feel safe.
Blankets remind your cat of you
It's true. Your cat loves you, despite what dog people say about the true nature of felines.
Sure, your kitty may pounce on your ankles whenever you walk by, but that's because you're best friends, and they know you probably won't bite them back.
In the same Swiss study referenced above, animal behavior researchers confirm that your bedding, blankets, and clothing are all marked with your scent. When your cat smells your pheromones, it comforts them and gives them a sense of security.
Furthermore, since you and kitty are both in the same family group, they also want to mark these items with their scent, deepening relationships within the household.
Why cats kneed blankets
Often called "making biscuits," most kitties knead their blankets like a baker kneads dough.
Kneading is a common behavior among cats. It's primarily a holdover from when they were kittens. Kneading makes nursing from their mothers more productive (Merck, 2021).
But adult cats deploy their kneading behavior for additional reasons, including:
- a comforting motion to soothe anxiety
- softening a sleeping surface
- scent marking through the scent glands in their paws
Do cats like blankets on top of them?
No, not all cats like blankets on top of them. Even cats who do like blankets, may not enjoy being beneath one.
The reasons some cats do not like being beneath blankets are varied — anxiety, claustrophobia, too much warmth — and will depend on each individual cat's personality.
Best blankets for cats
In fact, according to Amazon and Walmart reviews, many cats prefer fabrics like flannel, fleece, cotton, and linen.
Plus, reviews give extra stars for blankets with fun textures for your kitty to play with — fringe, tufts, and so on.
Be careful about using blankets with large holes. They may snag and hurt your cat's claws.
Lastly, the best blanket for your cat is probably the one you're using because your pheromones smell amazing!
Alternatives to blankets for your cat
Pet parents have no need to worry when their cat doesn't like blankets during the cold weather months.
These cat blanket alternatives are quite popular with some Amazon and Walmart customers.
The warmth from a simple heating pad placed on your bed, couch or other safe, stable surface will generally delight your kitty — once they discover it. And don't worry, they will.
Take care to keep the heat on the lower settings to avoid any risk of scalding your best friend.
Many pet parents report varying levels of success with cat beds. Some cats will never use one, but others may slowly warm up to the idea of a cat bed over time.
Keep in mind there are different types of cat beds — enclosures, tents, donut beds, cushions, and pads — and some designs may be more appealing to your cat than others.
Cat tree or cat condo
Cat trees and condos are a double whammy for your kitty. Not only do they get the warmth and safety that a blanket offers, but cats can also scratch and climb these structures.
Additionally, a cat tree gives your kitty the opportunity for both sleep and physical activity.
During the winter months, when temperatures drop, many pet parents wonder if their cat needs a blanket. A blanket isn't typically a necessity for your cat, but it's definitely an accessory that will be enjoyed.
And while you can spend money on dedicated blankets just for your cuddly demon kitty, if it's an indoor cat, they're already accustomed to "adopting" whatever they find in the household — including your blankets and bedding.