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Warning: This article, “Why do cats love heat?”, is purely informative. On CatLicking we do not have the skills to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to bring your animal to the veterinarian if it presents the symptoms of a fever or a disease.

We often think that cats like heat, especially when you see them basking in the sun. So much so that they sometimes seem to have a higher resistance than humans to withstand high temperatures.

And yet, what seems so obvious may not be systematic…

Let’s disentangle the true from the false right now!

Why Cats Love Heat: A Genetic Predisposition

Radiator, laptop, human, etc. When you observe cats, you cannot help but notice their attraction to heat! On the other hand, cats are often associated with the sun, as evidenced by the great importance they had in ancient Egypt… So it is only natural that we assume that they love heat. But why ?

Precisely because they are basically desert animals. Long before our era, the ancestors of cats lived in warm regions. Which explains why – even today – these can withstand temperatures sometimes up to 122 degrees!

Note also that some cat breeds have been able to adapt to colder climates over the course of evolution, for example by developing thicker fur.

The latter helps them to regulate their body temperature more easily, in addition to preserving them more easily from burns.

Their Body Temperature

Cats have a slightly higher body temperature than ours. Indeed, it is 102°F, against about 98.7°F for us humans. This is one of the reasons why they can handle heat better than we do.

But, when they sleep, their body temperature tends to drop. And this despite their fur! So, they absolutely have to compensate for this heat loss in order to keep their body at a high temperature, even while they sleep. For this, they then go in search of the hottest places in the house.

Cats love heat: A cat under a blanket

Cats love heat: A cat under a blanket – Photo by Antonio Jose Cespedes from Pixabay

Cats Love Heat, but Not Too Much: Prevent Heat-Related Risks

However, be careful, in their absolute need to warm up, our feline friends may not be aware of the heat emitted by heaters and get burned. In fact, cats have fewer heat receptors than us: we will feel pain from 112°F, while the cat will only feel it from 126°F, which is more than enough warm for burn.

Indeed, their fur being insulating, it can prevent them from realizing that the radiator on which they are lying is heating up.

For this reason, it is necessary to always keep an eye on them when lying down on such surfaces. Or put an extra layer on them, such as a blanket, to prevent direct contact with the device.

Regularly brushing your cat, ensuring him a sufficient supply of water or even preventing him from going out can be possible solutions, particularly in periods of strong heat.

Cats and the Sun, a Great Love Story

As soon as your cat sees a ray of sunlight, he is irresistibly attracted. He does not hesitate to lie down in the only place in the house bathed in the sun.

But what can explain such worship?

In fact, cats originally came from the most desert regions of the planet. This may partly explain their unconditional love for the sun. But also the fact that they can withstand a temperature of up to 122°F. That’s why cats love heat.

Plus, feeling the heat from the sun’s rays on their skin makes them just plain happy.

But there is also another explanation that can justify such a need for sun: vitamin D, provided by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Indeed, cats need vitamin D, which is essential, among other things, for good bone health.

However, they have such a dense coat that the sun’s rays can hardly penetrate their skin. If it does not get enough sunlight, their body is not able to synthesize vitamin D. This is why cats are interested in staying in the sun for long.

However, it is also necessary to check that their diet contains enough vitamin D because tanning sessions are not enough.

What Does the Cat do to Endure the Heat?

Unlike humans, cats do not sweat and cannot regulate their body temperature in this way; he can only do this by producing a little sweat in his pads or genitals, by salivation or by panting, in extreme cases.

The cat is an animal that also knows how to take care of itself to better withstand the heat. He rests and stands inactive to resist the heatwave.

However, the cat can suffer from heat stroke if it is not protected accordingly. As we said, his normal body temperature is about 102°F and he tries to regulate it as soon as it exceeds this limit.

On the other hand, a cat who is old or weakened by health problems can suffer greatly from strong heat, or even die from it. It is therefore important to be attentive.

When Should You Worry?

In the event of extreme heat or long periods of high temperatures, you should monitor your cat’s health.

Do your best to preserve it and take its temperature if it seems to be reached.

If the rectal thermometer reads over 107°F, see the veterinarian urgently. Between 103 and 107°F, check that he is not suffering from the following symptoms:

  • General weakness;
  • Muscle tremors;
  • Wobbling or lethargy;
  • Excessive salivation;
  • Very high heart rate;
  • Breathing difficulties and repeated gasping;
  • Bluish tongue and dark red gums;
  • Signs of anxiety;
  • Loss of appetite.

At the slightest sign, we advise you to consult the veterinarian quickly.

Do not allow your pet to become dehydrated, at the risk of developing more or less severe, even serious and fatal disorders.

How to Safely Warm a Cat

If you want to warm your cat without the risk of it getting burned, a solution may be to offer him a heated bed. These react to the pressure exerted by your cat when lying down on them, so that it does not heat up until then.

You can also place their favorite blanket near a heat source, but keep a reasonable distance, so that it is not in danger.

Cats’ Tips for Warming Up

The Duvet

Simple and efficient. An ancestral technique, consisting quite simply of waiting for his humans to go to work to slip under their duvets.

The Pocket

A technique that only very young kittens can use, but which is undoubtedly worth trying!

The Fireplace

A technique that we humans know well too, but that cats practice with a unique elegance.

Cat by the Fireplace

Cat by the Fireplace – Photo: Chris Rue, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sleeve

Rather similar to the pocket technique, this technique is also reserved for small cats, unless their humans have very large arms …

The Computer

One of the favorite techniques of cats today. But how did our cats do when we didn’t have computers yet?

The Dog

Cats may pretend they hate dogs, but they are happy to be able to huddle against them in the dead of winter.

Cat and Dog

Sometimes, kitty uses doggy to warm up! – Photo: Arantz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ray of Sunshine

Wait for the sun’s rays to break through and follow their trail all day long: life for cats is hard!

The Shoe

Your slippers, boots and ankle boots are true haven of peace for your cats!

The Group Nap

Feline heat, there is nothing like it!

The Radiator

It’s no secret that cats and radiators have lived a great and beautiful love story for a long time.

Cat on a Radiator

Cat on a Radiator – Photo by Eugen Visan from Pixabay

Cat Breeds that Don’t Tolerate Heat

Some cat breeds suffer more from rising temperatures than others and require extra vigilance. For example, long-haired cats like the Persian and the Selkirk Rex suffer more than others. Since their fur measures up to 15 cm, this does not allow them to find comfort during the summer.

Long and thick haired cat breeds like the Norwegian, the long haired Scottish Fold as well as the Maine Coon find it hard to find comfort during hot seasons and lose a lot of their hair. Licking themselves regularly during these seasons, they can ingest a large amount of hair. This can cause digestive upset, and therefore requires close monitoring.

There are also felines without fur like the Sphynx, Donskoy and Peterbald which have thick skin that produces a lot of sebum.

During the summer, this type of animal can have extremely oily skin, creating a feeling of discomfort in the animal. Due to the lack of coat, it can also get sunburns, causing burning sensations in the skin.

It is also possible that large cats like the Balinese and Turkish Angora have more fragile health than alley kitties.

To do this, you have to be very careful with them during the summer, as they can have difficulty breathing and get sick easily.

About the Author

Skye

A girl from Scotland who's in love with cats! I love to share tips on how to take care of our beloved furry friends.

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