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Why Do Cats Love to Sunbathe? 8 Reasons for this Behavior

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

red tabby cat lying on the ground sunbathing

Animals such as cats love sitting under the sun for hours, so this behavior may make you curious. However, it is a harmless thing that many animals do for various reasons. Therefore, do not be alarmed if you see your cat sitting in the sun for long periods.

Just like you may enjoy sunbathing for a while, it is not different from what your cat may do. There are various reasons for this behavior, but you mustn’t overthink it. This article highlights why your cat may do this and whether there are any dangers to it.

Top 8 Reasons Your Cat Sunbathes:

Many animals like to sunbathe, but you will realize that cats love it more if you have several pets. The following are some reasons why.

1. Warmth

Cats have an average body temperature of about 102 degrees Fahrenheit, so the sun plays a big part in helping them regulate their temperature. The house may be quite chilly for an animal with a high temperature, so it only makes sense for your cat to seek out the sun. It helps them warm up their bodies and bring the temperature of their surroundings close to that of their bodies.

red tabby cat sunbathing
Image Credit: Friedhelm Voellmer, Pixabay

2. To Rest

Cats love to sleep during the day, and while they do that, their body temperature becomes lower. This may make your cat feel cold during resting, and they don’t like that. Therefore, they will go out to the sun to help keep their bodies warm while taking a nap.

When your cat is in the rest phase, it also conserves its energy, lowering its metabolism. While this is happening, essential functions of the body can go below the standard, which helps them save energy. Storing the excess energy allows them to be at their best when up and about and makes them more alert, especially at night.

3. Pleasure

As a cat owner, you know that they love pleasure almost as much as humans do. They like resting in cozy places, so they may go out in the sun where they feel nice. They seek a comfortable sunny spot without disturbances, which relaxes them, and their brains produce serotonin- the feel-good hormone.

black and white cat lying on the ground sunbathing
Image Credit: Lionolin, Pixabay

4. For Vitamin D

Just like you would go out sunbathing for vitamin D, your cat needs the same too. While the sun allows their skin to produce an oil essential to their bodies, cats have a more complex system. Since they self-groom, the skin makes the oil that they ingest during grooming.

Cats ingest this oil from their fur, which allows them to get this vital vitamin. In addition, their bodies know that they need the oil for stronger bones, muscles, and teeth. This is why it is habitual to find them sitting in the sun for hours and grooming after.

See Also: Do Cats Actually Like Going to the Beach?

5. Genetics

Before domestication, cats used to live in hot areas where the sun shone brightly. For this reason, they have a genetic component that draws them to warm places, one of them being the sun. It may also include warm spots at home, such as on electronics or in the kitchen, to satisfy their heat needs.

cat walking in the field exposed in sunlight
Image Credit: Jarand K. Løkeland, Unsplash

6. Diet

Cats usually eat a protein-rich diet that doesn’t directly lead to heat production to keep their bodies warm. This is because it takes much longer for proteins to be broken down to produce enough energy for the body. In the meantime, your cat will try to get the heat they need from other sources such as the sun to keep warm.

7. To Build Immunity

The warmth brought about by sunlight helps in preventing colds and viruses that may weaken their immunity. Without the sun, their bodies become more susceptible to infections and chronic diseases. This doesn’t happen at once; it takes time for their bodies to grow weaker such as not getting enough calcium in their diet.

cats sunbathing on a roof by the beach
Image Credit: AleksaKras, Pixabay

8. To Relieve Pain

Older cats may sunbathe for long hours to provide relief to their aching joints and bodies. This is more common in cats that have arthritis since the sun offers temporary relief from their pains. It may also help heal wounds and other injuries by killing the bacteria on these sites, which may cause infections.

Can Cats Get Sunburnt?

While there are many benefits to your cat sunbathing, they too can get sunburns and heatstroke from sitting too long in the sun. You can tell that your cat has sunburns when they get irritated when you touch them after staying too long in the sun. Also, check their skin for red spots that are painful to touch.

The best way to prevent your cat from getting sunburns is by limiting their time in the sun. Please do not leave them out where they can go back to the sun. Vets advise that your cat shouldn’t spend more than 40 minutes in the sun.

It is also essential to check how hot the sun is before allowing your cat to sunbathe for 40 minutes. When the temperatures are too hot outside, limit time in the sun between 15 and 20 minutes. This is important to prevent heatstroke, which has undesirable effects on your cat.

What Are the Symptoms of Heatstroke?

Heatstroke or overheating can happen to cats who stay out in the sun for too long.

If you haven’t seen your cat for a while and they were outside, check for the following symptoms:
  • Quick breathing
  • Drooling
  • Fast pulse
  • Falling over
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • High body temperature

If you notice these symptoms in your cat, it is crucial to take fast action since heat strokes can be lethal. First, keep your cat in a cool area like the bathroom and see if the symptoms reduce. If your cat is vomiting, take them to the vet immediately for medical assistance.

Final Thoughts

Your cat sunbathing is not a big deal, as long as they don’t spend too much time outside. It is healthy for the cat to spend a few minutes in the sun from time to time, so don’t restrict them. However, look out for sunburns and heatstroke symptoms and take the necessary measures.

Featured Image Credit: Safoora Taimoor, Unsplash

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