Cats love the sun, they are true sun worshippers. Apartment cats like to stand by a window and enjoy every ray of sunshine that comes in. Outdoor cats often spend hours sunbathing or napping and are reluctant to come back indoors.
Since cats are descended from desert animals, living in the sun is their natural state. In addition, the warmth of the environment makes sleeping more comfortable for cats. A cat’s body temperature drops when it sleeps, and lying in the sun compensates for this. Cats spend up to 15 hours a day sleeping, so sunlight is important to their well-being.
Many cats will spend all day in the sun if given the opportunity.
However, this temptation must be handled carefully. Cats can also get sunburned. They can even get heat stroke or skin cancer.
Why Do Cats Like to Sunbathe?
Cats and the sun are probably one of the most natural pairings in the world.
If there’s a glimmer of sunlight, a cat is likely to seek it out. And once it is, most cats will happily take a prolonged sunbath.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some breeds, including the Norwegian Forest cat, Maine Coon, Persian cat, and Siberian cat, are more comfortable in cooler conditions.
However, most cats prefer a warmer temperature. This is due to the ancestry of domesticated cats.
Domestic cats evolved from wild cats that lived in the deserts of the Middle East about 100,000 years ago. Therefore, most cats continue to have a preference for warm temperatures.
Most cats are simply happiest in a hot climate. They are genetically accustomed to it.
In addition, sunshine also promotes sleep in cats. In part, this is due to the ease of relaxing in the warmth.
As mentioned earlier, cats are most comfortable in a warm climate. This means that a cat exposed to direct sunlight will become increasingly calmer. Snoozing is then just the next step on this path.
More importantly, the warmth of the sun counteracts a drop in temperature. It has been scientifically proven that a cat’s body temperature drops while it sleeps.
By napping in the sun, the cat does not cool down or wake up feeling uncomfortable.
Older cats may also seek out the sun to relieve their general discomfort. Arthritis is likely in all cats older than 10 years.
Cool temperatures increase this pain in the bones and joints. If the cat is in the sun, it is more comfortable for him.
Why Do Cats Roll in the Sun?
The main reason a cat rolls in the sun is to expose its belly. The cat enjoys the feel of the sun, but the fur blocks much of the heat.
When she rolls, the sun hits the cat’s bare belly. So she gets warm quickly and her body temperature rises.
The cat also protects other parts of its body. The ears, for example, feel the warmth of the sun. But the sun also affects the nose.
This can cause the nose to dry out, which is very uncomfortable. By changing its position, the cat protects its ears and nose from the sun’s rays.
It is also possible that your cat is simply expressing a moment of pure contentment. Cats often roll to express their joy.
For example, a cat may roll when greeting its owner. So, since cats like to bask in the sun, this could simply be an expression of joy.
Whatever the reason, keep an eye on your cat. If she rolls over on her back, try gently turning her over after a while. Otherwise, if the cat falls asleep, it puts its health at risk from excessive sun exposure.
Is Sunlight Good for Cats?
Sun is important for cats in appropriate doses. Cats are much happier when they are warm and dry.
This makes summer a favorite time of year for most cats. When the sun is shining, cats find it much easier to relax.
If your cat likes to bask in the sun, you should allow him to do so. Just take appropriate safety precautions.
Make sure your cat has a shaded area to retreat to if needed. However, sunbathing for a cat does have some benefits.
It is a misconception that cats draw energy from the sun. Sunshine does not automatically make a cat more energetic than a cooler climate.
However, sunshine prevents a cat from losing energy. Therefore, sunlight is a great way for a cat to relax and unwind after a busy day.
Cats burn a lot of calories while doing their daily activities.
Even though it may seem that your cat sleeps all day, it is not out of laziness. It is simply a necessity.
Hunting, playing, and general exercise are very tiring for a cat. This is even more true as she gets older.
In addition, cats need to burn calories to keep warm. Therefore, cats tend to be hungrier in the winter.
By basking in the sun’s rays, the cat stays nice and warm. This in turn means that it burns less energy.
This, of course, brings other advantages for cats. When your cat is warm, it will not want to eat so much.
This can have a positive effect on the cat’s weight. This is especially important with older cats, who exercise less than younger cats.
Your cat may not gain any energy from lounging in the sun, but it won’t lose any either. This can make a big difference in a cat’s well-being and quality of life.
When your cat takes advantage of the sun, it can focus its physical efforts on what’s important.
One of the great benefits of the sun is the vitamin D it provides. However, a cat cannot absorb vitamin D through the skin. Access is blocked by the fur. Instead, vitamin D must be supplied through food.
However, that doesn’t mean your cat can’t benefit from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D is trapped in the cat’s fur. When the cat grooms itself, it absorbs the vitamin through its mouth.
While this is not as effective as direct absorption through the skin, it is better than nothing.
This can be especially important for older cats. Higher levels of vitamin D may improve the survival of cats after illness. Vitamin D does not protect against disease, but it does improve immunity.
As with all things sun-related, the right amount is key. Excess vitamin D can lead to poisoning. Rat poison, for example, is effective because of high doses of vitamin D.
If your cat eats a balanced diet, limit exposure to the sun.
Hormone balance in cats is controlled by sunlight and the natural environment. This is especially important in unneutered female cats.
A cat’s cycle of heat often follows the seasons. Most cats come into heat in early spring and complete their annual cycle in the fall.
Cats do not have access to a calendar. They look to the sun to determine the time of year. When the sun is shining, a cat’s body produces less melatonin. This hormone suppresses the oestrus cycle.
For cats, this is a matter of survival. Feral or stray cats do not want to give birth to kittens in the winter. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep them warm and safe. So if there is little sunshine, the cat will not go into heat.
If you want your female cat to reproduce, she needs to spend time in the sun. This will activate her hormones accordingly, and her body will do the rest.
If you keep a cat indoors, away from natural light, her hormonal cycle gets out of rhythm with the seasons.
Even if your cat is neutered, it needs the sun to regulate its hormones. The sun tells the cat when it’s time to grow or shed fur.
Longer, sunnier days signal to the cat that summer is approaching. As a result, the cat begins to shed.
This is especially important for long-haired breeds. Without this natural response to sunlight, these cats would be uncomfortable in the sun.
Can Cats Get Sunburned?
Cats can get sunburned if they spend too much time in the sun.
This is just as painful for a cat as it is for a human. Blistering and peeling of the skin will occur. In addition, your cat will be reluctant to be scratched or petted. Their skin is very sensitive to sunburn.
All breeds of cats can get sunburned, but some are more at risk than others.
Long-haired cats are less susceptible to sunburn. Their thick coats prevent UV rays from hitting their skin unhindered. However, this protection is limited in duration. Sunburn can still occur.
White cats are most at risk for sunburn. Hairless cats or those with thin fur are also at increased risk. Without fur to protect the skin, UV rays meet no resistance.
Too much exposure to the sun can also cause a cat’s coat color to change. The coat usually lightens in the process.
Cats can be protected from sunburn by applying sunscreen. Focus primarily on the cat’s hairless body parts, such as the belly, nose, ears, and lips.
However, there is a caveat here: most sunscreens for humans are dangerous for cats. Homosalate, ethyl hexyl salicylate, and salicylate are commonly found in sunscreens and are all toxic to cats.
Check with your local pet store for cat-friendly sunscreens.
If you can’t find anything suitable, look for sunscreens for young children. These are usually unscented and free of chemicals.
However, check with a professional before applying to make sure they are suitable.
If you are concerned about sunburn on your cat, take preventative measures.
Keep your cat out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when it’s hottest. Also, avoid letting your cat out into the sunlight through a window at these times.
How to Treat Sunburn in Cats
If your cat is sunburned, he will be in a lot of pain. Unfortunately, that may not be enough to keep them from sunbathing further.
You will need to keep your cat indoors and close any curtains or drapes until she has fully recovered.
Once your cat is out of direct sunlight, you can relieve her discomfort. First, fill a spray bottle with cool water and spray her lightly with it.
If your cat has particularly severe burns, place a cool washcloth on the affected area. Hold it on the area for about five minutes several times a day.
This will relieve the heat on the skin and minimize the risk of scratching. When a cat scratches dry skin, it can bleed easily.
If the sunburn is severe, additional treatments may be needed. Start with conventional home remedies.
Aloe vera and witch hazel will moisturize dry, burned skin. This will make your cat feel more comfortable. Apply these remedies to a cotton pad and gently rub them on the affected skin.
Vitamin E supplements are also advisable. These can be ingested or rubbed directly into the skin. Vitamin E is safe for cats. This will speed healing and prevent scarring.
You only need to see a veterinarian if your cat has severe burns. In these cases, a painkiller may be required.
There is also a risk of your cat becoming infected if the skin is badly damaged. Observe the cat for 24 hours and take further action if necessary.
Can Cats Get Sunstroke?
Sunstroke is a lot like heat stroke. However, it is caused by the sun’s rays, while heat stroke is caused by the heat.
Sunstroke and heat stroke are more serious than simple overheating. Hyperthermia can cause permanent, irreversible damage to a cat’s internal organs.
A cat is at risk of sunstroke if it basks in the blazing sun for several hours. This causes the cat’s body temperature to steadily rise above a safe level.
Any temperature above 100 °F (37.8 °C) is dangerous. A temperature of 104 °F (40 °C) or more is an emergency. Signs that your cat has sunstroke are:
- Panting and drooling
- Discolored gums and tongue (typically bright, deep red, or dull gray)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Mental confusion
- Loss of consciousness
Unfortunately, sunstroke in cats can develop insidiously. The cat may snooze in the sun without realizing that it is getting hotter.
This is especially common in older cats. Older cats fall into a deep, restful sleep more easily than their younger counterparts.
But it may also be that the cat simply doesn’t mind. At this moment, her only concern is to soak up as much sun as possible.
However, many cats notice that they are uncomfortable and seek out the shade.
How to Treat Feline Sunstroke
If you think your cat is having sunstroke, you should encourage it to drink fluids immediately.
If the cat won’t drink water, offer him Gatorade. The electrolytes in this drink will help her.
Alternatively, you can keep frozen treats on hand. Meat sauces frozen into ice cubes can be tempting to cats.
Wrap the cat in a damp towel to lower its body temperature.
However, do not place the cat in a tub of cold water. This would send her body into shock and cause further problems.
The cat’s body temperature needs to be lowered evenly, not drastically.
It is also advisable to make an appointment with a veterinarian. If the cat’s internal organs have been damaged, immediate treatment may be needed.
The veterinarian may also provide your cat with an intravenous drip to improve hydration.
Can Cats Get Skin Cancer from the Sun?
The biggest danger for cats that like to sunbathe is skin cancer. Cats that spend too much time in the sun risk basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
Skin cancer is not a quick, overnight risk. Your cat has to get sunburned several times for it to become a real risk.
Therefore, if your cat is sunburned, you should keep him away from UV radiation for an extended period of time.
If you notice lumps or bumps on your cat’s skin, have them examined. It is entirely possible that they are benign, but don’t take any chances.
Even if the worst has happened, feline skin cancer has a good prognosis if caught early.
Usually, the damaged skin is surgically removed. If the cancer has not spread, this is the end of your cat’s treatment.
In aggressive cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also be required. Remember, however, that all of this can be avoided if you control your cat’s sun exposure.
Summary: Why Do Cats Love the Sun?
It is due to their ancestry that cats love the sun. However, sun rays also have important functions for cats.
Therefore, cats should always have the opportunity to enjoy the sun. Allow your cat to bask in the sun’s rays and let them enjoy the benefits that come with it.
However, be aware of the risks involved. If you think your cat has gotten enough sun, bring it indoors. Better safe than sorry.