Why Sunbeams and Cats Go So Well Together

If you’re looking for your cat, just find the closest sunbeam!

Wherever there’s warmth, there’s a cat—sunshine streaming through the windows or perching atop a heat vent. Have you ever wondered why cats crave warmth, even with all that fur covering them?

Higher Body Temperature = Higher Heat Tolerance

Although we humans like to sunbathe by the pool, cats don’t feel heat the same way we do. Human body temperature averages 98.7 degrees, whereas a cat’s body temperature is around 102 degrees. As well, cats have fewer heat receptors than humans. Some studies have shown that things get universally too hot for humans at a temperature of 112 degrees, but for cats, that temp is 126 degrees. This means felines can be burned more easily, because they don’t mind sitting too close to a fire or walking on a hot stove.

But not all cats crave warmth as others—long-haired cats conserve body better than short-haired cats. And depending on where you live, your cat will seek out a warm lap or blanket more often if she has a shorter coat. If your cat has no coat at all, you’ll need to outfit her with a sweater in the colder months.

cat sunbeam


The Cat Family Tree

Domesticated cats we know today can trace their DNA back to Felis silvestris, a wild feline that lives in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Genetically, all cats come from wild cats that lived in these regions about 10,000 years ago—places that are known for desert climate. That mostly explains why modern day cats crave warmth—their ancestral need for desert heat, and the fact that they can lose the heat easily, thanks to living in such a hot climate.

Even though they have a desert lineage, it’s important to remember that cats can overheat. That’s why you should never leave a cat in a car on hot days, because your feline can suffer from heatstroke, which would result in a life-threatening situation.

High Protein Diets

When genetics are combined with a cat’s protein-rich diet, it’s no wonder cats need all the extra warmth they can get. Protein doesn’t work the same way as carbohydrates in terms of energy conservation. A cat’s body can’t produce the extra energy it takes to keep her warm in chillier climates. Just because you’re equipped with a fur coat doesn’t mean you’re covered when it comes to cold temps. Thankfully, we can help our cats keep toasty.

If you live in a colder climate, remember cats that live outside look for a warm place to sleep. Outfitting outdoor cat areas with dog houses insulated with straw and blankets will keep them safe. And don’t forget to surprise them with a warm meal and water during the day—this will make the difference between life and death for cats living outdoors.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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