Where you’ll find a sunbeam, that’s where your cat will be. But why do cats love the sun so much?
A full fur coat isn’t always enough to keep cats warm. They love to lounge in sunshine, snuggle in blankets, and perch atop a heat vent. Why isn’t their fur enough to keep them warm?
Even in warmer climates, or where there’s mild winter, it’s often too cold for cats. Cats have a higher body temperature than us. Depending on the age and breed, the average cat has a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit; the normal body temperature for humans is 98.6 degrees. This begs the question: “Why do cats crave warmth?”
Before we domesticated them, cats lived in hot or desert areas—that’s where they developed a high heat tolerance. At this time in history, most were short-coated and long-bodied, which enabled cats to function in high temperatures.
Because there are so many different breeds of cat, their need for heat varies. For instance, a long-hair Persian won’t need as much sun as a short-haired Siamese.
A cat’s temperature drops while she’s sleeping. As a mammal, she needs a certain amount of energy to keep her warm and comfortable while she catches her beauty sleep. A cat’s body temperature drops slightly while she sleeps, so expect to find her curled up in a warm corner to conserve her energy.
It may not seem like it to you, but your cat expends a lot of energy just being a cat! When they’re hunting, felines are using short bursts of speed and plenty of brainpower—that’s because they have to outrun and outthink their prey. While they’re on the move, their metabolisms run on overdrive, meaning they burn lots of energy. That’s why sun is an important energy source for cats—you could say that felines run on solar power!
Because a cat may not get enough calories to fuel all their energy needs, lying in the sun and keeping warm is an easy way to regulate their body temperatures. This way, they can stay warm without using the calories from food to keep comfortable.
Alternative Heat Sources
The sun can’t shine every day. What do cats do if there are no sunbeams to soak in? Cats will look for alternative sources of heat. These can include blankets, lamps, heating vents, a warm lap, or even a car engine. You can help your cat keep warm by providing plenty fleece blankets and beds for your cat to nap in.
It’s important to remember that even though cats crave warmth, they can overheat. That’s why you should never leave your cat in a vehicle on a hot day, as your car heats up to stifling temperatures which can put your cat in a life-threatening situation.
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.