cat beds

Do Cats Need Heated Cat Beds?

Cats love the lap of luxury, and nothing says ‘luxury’—at least for a cat—more than a heated cat bed. But is a heated cat bed any more than a luxury, or is there a more meaningful reason to get one? Could they have therapeutic benefits or are they just expensive geegaws?

Do cats need heated cat beds? Most don’t, but they can come in useful, especially with cats which are elderly or unwell. Kittens, older cats and sick cats can all struggle to generate enough body heat so would benefit from a heated cat bed, as would shorthair cat breeds and hairless cat breeds. Besides that, cats enjoy warm surfaces, which means your cat will enjoy using a heated cat bed more than a normal one. You could also consider buying a heated cat bed if your cat refuses to use a normal one and you want to encourage it to use its bed. Ensure that you buy one with lots of positive reviews so that you know it will be safe and won’t malfunction.

The guide below first looks at why cats need heated cat beds, especially kittens, older cats and cats that are unwell. If you’re already dead-set on buying a heated cat bed and you just need some recommendations, skip to the final section, which is a roundup of the best heated cat beds available today.

Do Cats Need Heated Cat Beds?

wicker cat beds
Cats don’t strictly need heated beds. But they definitely love them!

Cats don’t generally need heated cat beds, but yours may benefit from having one. If you aren’t aware, a heated cat bed is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a regular cat bed, but with some mechanism by which it warms up. Some plug into the wall and use a little electricity, just like an electric blanket does. Others are ‘self-warming’, meaning that they’re stuffed or lined with some heat-reflective material which will keep your cat warm. Others still are mats rather than beds, and these can be placed under anything that you want to keep warm for your cat (like a cat bed that you already have, for example).

As you can imagine, most cats love heated cat beds. Cats enjoy sitting anywhere warm, like on a lap, in front of a fire, and so on. A heated cat bed is like the warm spot that your cat picks, except it’s comfy like a normal cat bed, and encourages your cat to stay wherever you put the bed.

So, that might be reason enough to buy one: a heated cat bed will make your cat happy. But there are concerns you might have like whether your cat can keep itself warm anyway, and whether heated cat beds are safe. Let’s take a look at these legitimate concerns before we look at a few recommended beds.

Are Heated Cat Beds Safe for Cats?

Heated cat beds are generally safe for cats. They only reach a temperature which is suitable for your pet, and are designed so that they won’t catch fire, cause burns, or anything like that. That being said, it’s definitely best to buy a heated cat bed that has lots of good reviews so that you know it won’t malfunction.

One of the main concerns that people have is whether their heated cat bed is waterproof. The obvious problem is that if you spill water on it, or the cat pees on it, it might break or catch fire. That’s why almost all heated cat beds are fitted with waterproofing, so that this doesn’t happen. If you do plan on buying one, double check that it has this feature before you do.

Can Cats Keep Themselves Warm?

Cats keep themselves warm in the same way that all mammals do, by producing body heat. That’s why cats are ‘warm blooded’ animals.

Mammals create body heat by burning energy from food. Energy is sent to each cell in the form of sugars. Each cell uses this energy to fuel vital processes, such as breaking down nutrients and molecules, or maintaining the cell’s structure. The cell is like a furnace used to power a steam train: the point of the furnace is to generate steam to move the train forward (the process), but at the same time, the heat from the furnace warms up the cabin. In the same way, when the cell uses up energy, warmth is released. Because there are so many cells in your cat’s body all doing this at once, this warmth adds up. The blood transports this heat from hot spots to colder ones to keep the whole body warm.

However, not all cats can keep themselves warm as well as others. You might live in a very cold place, for example, in which case it will be more difficult for your cat to keep warm. Or, your cat might be older and/or unwell.

Do Cats Get Cold at Night?

It’s also more difficult for cats to stay warm at night, for obvious reasons—it’s colder.

But that’s not all there is to this question. That’s because cats are actually highly active at night, and in many cases, more active than they are in the day. This varies from cat to cat, because wild cats hunt at night, while many domestic cats have adapted to be awake more in the day to spend more time with their people. What’s certainly not true, though, is that your cat has a clear bedtime and a clear wake-up time in the morning. This means that your cat will be up and about, walking or even running from place to place in your house! This will keep it plenty warm throughout the night.

Do Any Cats Need Heated Cat Beds?

While a healthy adult can’t wouldn’t necessarily benefit from a heated cat bed, other cats might: older ones, younger ones and ones that are unwell. Let’s take a look at why.

Why Are Heated Cat Beds Good for Kittens?

cat bed review
Kittens are small, so don’t generate as much body heat. 

The core use of a heated cat bed is for keeping a cat warm if it can’t generate its own body heat. Body heat isn’t just important for comfort; its purpose is to keep the internal organs warm. A mammal’s organs need to be kept at a certain temperature in order to work properly, and if they get too hot or too cold, they can shut down with obvious disastrous consequences.

Now, this isn’t going to happen with your kitten if it’s healthy. Healthy kittens can generate their own body heat like any mammal can. But if you provide your kittens with a heated cat bed, they can use that energy for running around and growing stronger instead!

Besides that, heated cat beds are good for teaching kittens to sleep in cat beds. Not all kittens take instantly to sleeping in a bed, and instead choose to sleep wherever they like. It’s for this reason that some adult cats refuse to sleep in a bed, even if you buy a nice one for them. Your kitten will quickly take to sleeping in a heated cat bed because all cats love sources of warmth, and this will teach it that its bed is the place it should sleep.

Why Are Heated Cat Beds Good for Sick Cats?

Again, heated cat beds are good for sick cats because sick cats can struggle to generate their own body heat. Depending on why the cat is sick, it may raise its body temperature to try and make itself better again (that’s what a fever is). When a cat—or any animal—does this, it uses up a lot of energy. This can mean that it isn’t as active, loses weight from burning fat, and needs to eat more. It puts a lot of stress on your cat’s body not just being at that temperature, but raising to that temperature, because it takes a lot of calorific energy to do so.

A heated cat bed helps with this. It means that your cat doesn’t have to do all of the work on its own, because its heated cat bed is warming it up. This means that your cat’s body is under less stress, it doesn’t have to eat as much, and it may have more energy for other things. Plus, it’s good to keep your cat comfortable when it’s sick anyway, and a heated cat bed is a good way to do that.

Why Are Heated Cat Beds Good for Older Cats?

Older cats struggle to generate body heat in the same way that kittens and sick cats do, but for different reasons. As cats get older, they naturally start to lose a little of their fat reserves and muscle mass. With less muscle and fat around their organs, they struggle to retain heat in the same way as they used to. A heated cat bed will help slow this process down slightly (although not avert it completely) because your cat will be able to warm up on its bed without burning all of its fat reserves. And, as always, it’s good to keep an older cat comfortable just like it is with kittens and cats that are unwell.

Are Heated Cat Beds Good for Certain Cat Breeds?

A heated cat bed would also be of benefit to certain cat breeds. Hairless cats like sphynxes would enjoy the extra warmth. At the same time, you probably don’t need to buy a heated cat bed for a longhair cat. That’s because their extra hair acts like a thick, warm coat and traps heat better than a shorthair cat’s fur.

Recommended Heated Cat Beds

It’s important that you get a cat bed that’s known to work without malfunctioning or getting too hot. Below are our favorite heated cat beds and mats, each of which has lots of positive reviews, is made well, and will do the job you want it to. We’ve picked three: one that’s a good all-round option, a mat that can work in conjunction with a cat bed you already own, and a ‘self-warming’ option that doesn’t plug into the wall, but which absorbs and reflects heat exceptionally effectively!

1) K&H Pet Products Heated Thermo-Kitty Heated Cat Bed

This heated cat bed is maybe the most popular model currently available online. It has thousands of reviews at the time of writing with a very high average score. It comes in two sizes, at either 16 inches or 20 inches wide. It has quite tall sides, so it looks like a big pie dish rather than a flat, floppy bed (like most cat beds).

According to its product description, it is thermostatically controlled so that it can respond automatically to your cat’s body temperature as it warms up or cools down. This first means that it won’t get too hot for your cat, but also that you can leave it plugged in, and it won’t produce heat when your cat isn’t around.

Not only that, but it has a removable cover/heat insert. This has two advantages. First, it means that you can launder the cat bed just as you would launder any cat bed (provided you take the heat insert out first). But it also means that you can remove the heat insert in the summer, and the bed will act as a normal cat bed. This means your cat can use the same bed year round.

Reviews for the K&H are very positive. Cats find it comfy, it’s cheap (it only draws 4 watts of power, so depending on use, should cost about 50c a month to run), and it’s big enough even for big cat breeds. If you’re intent on buying a K&H product, but this one doesn’t do it for you, they have lots and lots of options availble. There’s the Dream Pod, which is a heated bed with a dome; there’s the 25 inch mat, for big cats; and there’s an 18 inch Fashion Splash bed that looks more like a normal cat bed too.

2) Furrybaby Updated Pet Heating Pad

If you’re after a cheaper option, you could try the Furrybaby Heating Pad instead. Unlike the K&H bed, this isn’t really a bed, it’s just a mat (which is probably why it’s cheaper). It’s an 18 inch by 18 inch mat with fireproof and waterproof lining that can either act as a mat on its own, or be inserted into/under a regular cat bed to turn it into a heated one. It plugs into the wall.

Like other options, it has an overheating sensor to stop it getting too hot. Unlike the K&H, though, it doesn’t sense when the cat is around; instead you can set it on a timer for every 3, 6 or 12 hours. You can also manually adjust the temperature from anywhere between 68 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit/20 to 50 degrees Centigrade.

This bed has very similar reviews to the K&H. Cats seem to love it, it’s cheap to run, and it can double either as a mat on its own or in combo with a cat bed you already own.

3) Petmate Aspen Pet Self Warming Beds

This final option doesn’t plug into the wall like the other two. Rather, it’s described as a ‘self-warming’ cat bed. This means that when your cat sits in it, it uses your cat’s own warmth more effectively than a normal cat bed. It actually contains a Mylar layer, which reflects your cat’s body heat back towards it and stops it dissipating into the floor. This means that your cat will gradually get warmer and warmer in its bed without the need for the bed to be actively heated. The bed itself looks exactly like a normal cat’s bed. It’s a mix of corduroy on the bottom and wool-like fabric on top.

This has a few advantages. One is that you won’t have to pay for the cost of energy for heating the bed. While heated cat beds don’t use much energy, it’s better to pay nothing than a small amount; plus energy might cost more for you depending on where you live. Another point is that there won’t be a cable running from the bed, which depending on where you put it, could be a tripping hazard. There also isn’t any chance of the bed overheating, injuring your cat, or malfunctioning in some way. Plus, this bed will still warm your cat up even if your power goes out, which others won’t!

The reviews for this one are great too: it’s supposedly very soft, very comfortable and very warm. Other reviews point out how surprised they were at how warm it got, which is a good sign. It comes in lots of different sizes (24x20in, 27x36in, 30x24in, 35×27 and 19.5in round) and a few different colors too, meaning that you can get one that’s suitable for any cat.

There are, of course, lots of other options available too. Few have as good reviews as these three, though.