One of the best known characteristics of cats is lying down and lazing around on hot days. But why do cats like being in the sun? Are there any risks to their health?
Cats are very predictable. Every morning we wake up and we already know that cat will be lying under the window, absorbing the sunlight, or maybe another day he prefers the sun’s rays from a skylight in the ceiling. With all their hair, we might think cats get hot, especially in the hot summer months, but they never hesitate to get some sun. But why do cats like being in the sun, especially on hot days? And won’t it hurt their health? Let’s find out the reasons for this habit, but also the benefits and risks for the well-being of our cat.
Cats like being in the sun – why?
Most people in the house have a temperature between 21 ° C and 27 ° C. We consider this a perfect comfort level for humans, but our feline friends disagree. They love heat and will always seek out sunny spots for additional warmth. Where do they get this motivation for finding the sun?
Felines – absolutely wonderful – live in the wild, in almost all climates. Just think of the snow leopards, which live in the high and rugged mountains of Central Asia, and the lions in the African deserts. And while these cousins vary in their climate preferences, they can all enjoy a nice nap in the sun. Just like their wild relatives, our domestic cats look for places in our homes where they can enjoy the warm temperatures.
First of all, there is a genetic factor: before we domesticated them, cats lived in hot or desert areas – that’s where they developed a high tolerance to heat. At this time in history, most were short-haired and full-bodied, which allowed cats to be comfortable even in high temperatures. But nowadays, as there are so many different cat breeds, their need for warmth varies. For example, a longhaired Persian will not need as much sun as a shorthaired Siamese.
For cats, feeling warm means feeling safe. The splendor of a cat smiling in a sunny nap tells everything about his happiness. The heat of the sun can make us avoid those areas of the house that get hot during peak hours, but cats find them relaxing. The sun can also help cats regulate their body temperature. We know that a cat’s normal body temperature, 39 ° C, is higher than ours, 37 ° C. And if cats can adapt to many environments, they need to keep their body temperatures within a normal range.
We may notice that our cat looks for substitutes for sunlight when the need to warm up arises, for example in the evening. An apartment cat may disappear during the evening hours, but we can usually find it curled up near the radiator to steal some heat.
A cat’s high metabolism can also explain its craving for heat. A cat’s temperature drops while they sleep. As a mammal, he needs a certain amount of energy to keep himself warm and comfortable while having his beauty sleep. A cat’s body temperature drops slightly while sleeping, so it’s easy to find them curled up in a warm corner to save energy.
While our shorthair pet cat is sunbathing to keep warm, he is also conserving energy. Sunlight helps overcome a drop in basal metabolic rate associated with “turning off” during sleep. The accumulated energy can be used later for many physical activities, such as running and jumping on furniture, climbing perches or stairs. In nature, cats use this reserved energy to climb trees and hunt.
Since a cat may not have enough calories to feed all of its energy needs, lying down in the sun and warming up is an easy way to regulate body temperature. That way, they can stay warm without using the calories from food to stay comfortable. Another reason cats like to be out in the sun.
And if we humans love the coolness of the air conditioning on a hot day, our cats can protest, trying to escape the cold air. We can find cats in a pile of blankets, or climb up to get that warmth that rises. Warm environments that are uncomfortable for us can please our cats.
In fact, a warm outside temperature means for a cat that his body doesn’t have to work so hard to keep warm. This is why we will see a cat move from one point to another as the sunlight moves on the carpet or floor: it will follow the heat to keep its “fuel” consumption to a minimum.
Cats like to be in the sun, but there are limits. We must never leave the cat in the car on a hot day. This can quickly become a life-threatening situation for him. In the winter months, make sure cats, especially hairless and outdoor cats, have a way to keep warm. Serious consequences can occur if their body temperature drops below 38 ° C.
If we notice any signs of hypothermia, including difficulty breathing, cold skin, general weakness, muscle stiffness, chills, dilated pupils, and heart and breathing problems, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Finally, it is important to feed our four-legged friend a high quality cat food, which will provide him / her with the fuel needed to maintain a healthy body temperature.
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