Some like it hot
Ever watched your cat move around the house and garden to seek out the sunniest spots for a nap, even on a hot day, and wondered why they do it? Surely, with their fur coats, it’s a display of feline madness? Is it a case of the sun going to their heads?
The reason cats seek out the sun starts with genetics. Research on cat DNA has shown that domesticated cats evolved from a wild species, Felis sylvestris lybica (the African wildcat) which lives in Africa, Europe, and Asia. As their origins are as desert animals, it makes sense that they like it hot, but there’s a bit more to it than that. In fact, the reasons that cats like to bask in the sun reveals that they are extremely clever at using the energy it provides to support the physiology that nature gave them.
Part of a cat’s daily energy intake is used to maintain their body temperature – which is a couple of degrees higher than us (100.5 degrees Fahrenheit compared to a human average of 98.6 degrees). By lying in the sun, a cat needs to use less energy to maintain the correct temperature. If they start to get too hot, they lick their fur – when the saliva evaporates, it provides a cooling effect.
Then there’s the protein-rich diet of these obligate carnivores, which plays a part. Protein doesn’t work in the same way as carbohydrates in terms of energy consumption. Essentially, cats don’t have much extra energy to spare to keep them warm if their environment is cooler than they were biologically designed for, so that’s another reason why they naturally seek out heat sources.
“It’s another green energy saving award for felines!”
In addition, when cats sleep, certain body functions slow down, so by sleeping in a sunny spot it helps to slow the drop in their basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy required when at rest) – which means another green energy saving award for felines!
So, now you understand why cats like to be solar-powered and how they are very good at staying at just the right temperature with the minimum of effort. However, as clever as cats are, they can occasionally overheat, particularly if they are long-haired. Check out our blog about how to keep your pets cool in summer