Your cat's survival instinct tells them that there are few things more important in life than finding warmth. In the wild, finding even a little bit of heat could mean the difference between life and death. Your pampered pet hopefully isn't at risk for things like frostbite or hypothermia, but they're still going to notice when the temperature starts to drop. Their fur coat does most of the work to keep them warm, but when the air gets especially cold, you might notice unusual changes in your cat's behavior. For example, a lot of cats become friskier in cold weather. Cats that are normally relaxed and laid-back might start running around like crazy or acting surprisingly energetic. Keep reading to learn why.
To Keep Their Blood Moving
The most likely explanation for why some cats become friskier in cold weather has to do with their desire to stay warm. You already know that your internal body temperature increases when you're extra active. That's why you feel so hot when you're working out. Your cats can also catch on to this biological phenomenon. When muscles are put into action, they generate heat. Muscle contractions force blood to pump through the veins and create even more heat. Moving around will also cause cells to burn more fuel (like fat and carbs) which in turn helps keep the body warm. There's a lot of science that goes into it, but we're pretty sure cats aren't thinking about biology when they're zooming around the house on a cold day. Instead, cats learn through experiences. They realize that they feel warmer when they're moving. They don't care why it works, all they care about is combatting the cold. If your cat is feeling an uncomfortable chill, they might decide to do something about it. Even if they're usually the type to lounge and nap all day, their desire for warmth can be enough to motivate them to become friskier in cold weather. Sprinting from one end of the house to the other is an excellent way to get the blood flowing and increase their overall body temperature. The same goes for rolling around on the carpet like a maniac and playing with toys they normally ignore.
To Hunt for a Heat Source
While some cats are zooming around to generate their own body heat, others will prowl the house for a different reason. If your cat is acting more curious than they are crazy, it could be because they're looking for something. That something is a useful heat source. When the temperature gets colder, your cat's usual nap spot might no longer cut it. The spot by the window is still comfy, but it's not warm enough. To solve this problem, your cat might explore the house looking for a cozy spot where they can escape the chill. A spot near the heater, an enclosed space in a cabinet, the corner of a closet–all of these places could potentially be warmer than your cat's usual hangout spots. But to find them, your cat needs to move around the house and explore. This behavior might be unusual for some cats, but they'll probably go back to their lazy selves once they find an adequate heat source.
Sometimes your cat's extra frisky behavior veers on the side of aggression. Instead of zooming and having fun, you might define your cat's friskiness as being extra moody. They might swat at you more often or over react if you try to pick them up. There's a chance this type of cold-weather behavior is related to chronic pain. There are plenty of humans who say they feel especially achy and uncomfortable when the temperature drops. This is because when cold weather sets in, barometric pressure falls. This can cause increased sensitivity and inflammation in the joints. The same happens with cats. These cold-weather aches and pains are more likely to affect older cats who might already have joint damage. The cold weather makes their joint issues flare up, and this can make them extremely uncomfortable. That pain puts them in a bad mood and can make them become friskier in cold weather. And by frisky, we actually mean moody and aggressive. Talk to your vet about easing your cat's cold weather aches.