Cats are known to have a higher body temperature than humans do, but isn't it strange that they also like sleeping on warm things? This article will explain everything on this topic – from why cats like warmth and love to sunbathe to what their optimal temperature is and why snuggling with a human is equally important.
Continue reading to learn more!
Why Do Cats Lay In The Heat In Summer?
While many people will say that cats are hedonists and just love finding ways to be comfortable, there are many reasons why cats love to lay in heat.
Cats are nocturnal animals: most cats are active at night and sleep during the day. In summer days, where outside heat may reach up to 104°F – and even more, cats tend to be less active during the days because if they move or play during the day they will be overheated. Instead, they conserve energy by being active at the optimal time.
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Cats are desert animals: according to most recent genetic analysis, modern-day housecats are descended from a population of domesticated wildcats that prowled the Middle East more than 100,000 years ago. Unlike dogs, whose biology has transformed drastically during the 30,000 years humans have lived with them, domestic cats are almost identical to their wild counterparts—physically as well as genetically. Due to their desert origins, they have a higher metabolism for heat.
Why Do Cats Love To Sunbathe?
Because cats are descendants of ancient desert animals, they are hardwired to thrive in pleasantly warm climates. While they can survive in colder climates, and many have developed thick and fluffy coats as a result, they depend on external heat sources – like humans – to stay warm.
However, there are other, more biological reasons why cats love to sunbathe:
Cats have a provitamin of Vitamin D in their saliva. While they lick their fur to clean themselves, the act of cleaning also deposits the provitamin on their fur. The sunlight converts the provitamin to Vitamin D, which the cats then ingest by licking their fur again.
Cats have higher natural body temperature, and with it comes a higher tolerance to heat. Cats normal body temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5°F
Cats have less heat receptors on their bodies unlike humans, and they are mostly situated on their faces, which means they respond to heat differently.
How Do Cats Keep Warm In Winter?
Cold puts greater metabolic demands on the cat – it has to burn energy at a greater rate to maintain its core temperature, and food is much harder to come by in the winter. Since free water becomes unavailable, it is also one of more serious concerns.
All cats will grow a thicker coat in the winter. However, the extra fur alone will not be enough to keep them warm and prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Cats need shelter from the cold just as humans do.
In winter months, it is especially important to take good care of your cat by providing shelter to your cat and safe and warm places where your cat can rest and warm up. Simple things like a soft blanket, a heated cat bed or a heated pad in a warm room can mean a lot to your cat.
It is very important to let your cat stay inside during cold winter months. Make sure to never put a sweater on an outdoor cat as it can get caught on a fence and cause injury when your cat is trying to get free.
Studies have also shown that cold weather increases appetites demand for outdoor and indoor cats, even if the indoor variety lives in temperature-controlled environments. The lower of amount of natural light with the cold weather stimulate the appetites of all cats. Therefore, feeding your cat in winter months is especially important as it helps her conserve energy and in turn – be warmer.
Do All Cats Crave Warmth?
Not all cats crave warmth in the same way. For example, there are many breeds of cats that love water and lower temperatures.
Long-haired cats conserve their body heat much longer than short-haired cats. Generally, short haired cats are more often found sunbathing.
There are other factors as well such as age. answer may get a little bit more complex when it comes to young kittens cuddling with their parents. Not many people know that very young kittens are unable to regulate their body temperatures. As they grow, their parents will stay close to them to provide warmth and security.
Do Cats Enjoy Cuddling Or Are They Just In It For The Warmth?
The answer to this question is both! While cats cuddle not just for the warmth, cuddling with a human does help the cat to at least trap some warmth around their body – but the instinct do to this is entirely natural.
However, the answer may get a little bit more complex when it comes to young kittens cuddling with their parents. Not many people know that very young kittens are unable to regulate their body temperatures. As they are exposed to humans in the first 3 to 7 weeks after being born, they become more socialized and begin to start to consider humans as part of their family. It quickly becomes just as desirable to start to snuggle up to them as to other cats.
Cats value snuggling in cozy, soft and safe places, and snuggling with humans is an opportunity for companionship and bonding with the one that feeds the cat, waters it, protects it, and cleans up after it. Human laps and beds are almost always considered ideal locations by cats.
The bonding time is just as important for a cat as it is for a human. If cats wanted just warmth, they would lay down on the heat register – which they readily do in winter. Instead, they insists on sharing their time being with their human family.
What Temperatures Do Cats Like?
Generally, cats prefer the temperature between 70°F – 85°F, and no lower than 60°F. Any cat would be purrfectly comfortable at 75°F!
Cats can stand very hot or cold temperatures outdoors for a limited amount of time.
While the body temperature of cats is around 100°F, almost the same as ours, unlike humans cats do not tolerate heat in the same way because they have fewer heat receptors. It is important for a cat's body to always be at an optimal temperature, and it drops below 80°F, they could be in very real trouble.
Cats react to heat differently than humans and must always be given the opportunity to warm up or cool down after spending long amount of time sunbathing or at cold places. If not a natural reaction to the environment they're in, a cat being too warm or cold may be a sign of an underlying health issue and should immediately be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.
- Driscoll C., et al. Science, doi:10.1126/science.1139518 (2007).
- Vigne J.-D., et al. Science, 304 . 259 (2004).
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