cat wearing a yellow winter coat
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A Veterinarian's Take on Cat Winter Coats, Plus 5 Options to Try

While they might look adorable in a winter coat, not every kitty needs one.
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It might seem like an oxymoron to talk about coats for cats, given that most cats come with their own coat. Besides, most cats aren't exactly fond of being told what to do—let alone being bundled into a coat. So does your cat actually need one? Although most cats won't, there are some who may require some extra warmth.

Do Cats Need Winter Coats?

All that hair on your cat isn't just there for pets (or every item of clothing you own). "It can be particularly helpful for insulating and keeping them warm in cold temperatures," says Emily Wilson, DVM with Fuzzy in San Francisco. Cats also stay warm by cuddling next to another warm body, be it other cat or human, and burrowing under blankets, dens, or enclosed areas if they're outside cats. Cats also have a natural ability to extend their hairs during cold weather, called piloerection, which allows them to have a thicker coat and be more insulated.

All of this means that most cats don't need a human-made coat unless the temperatures are extreme or they lack a sufficient natural hair coat. "The lack of hair coat makes temperature regulation more difficult for them in cooler climates," Wilson says. Cats who have had extensive shavings due to a surgical or medical procedure may also be candidates for coats, but she cautions to check with your veterinarian first as some surgical incisions can be irritated if they're constantly being rubbed or contacted by a coat.

How To Choose the Right Winter Coat for Your Cat

Unlike coats for dogs, there isn't an overwhelming amount of coats for cats on the market, which will make your shopping easier. When you're looking, though, consider factors like how easy the coat is to wash, the material, measurements, and whether the coat will be ergonomically fitted to your cat's body shape, Wilson says.

5 of Our Favorite Winter Coats for Cats

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Keeping Your Cat Safe in a Coat

Your cat should always be monitored whenever he or she is wearing a coat. Not only is there a risk of them being caught on items like furniture and door handles, overheating is also an issue. "Monitor your cat for any panting or signs of discomfort," Wilson says.  

And if your cat goes outside unsupervised, avoid putting that coat on. After all, they can easily get stuck outside on things like fences, she adds.