Why Does My Cat Like to Lie in the Sunlight?

Sunny windows are popular spots for Fluffy to hang out.
Sunny windows are popular spots for Fluffy to hang out. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Sunbathing is something that most, if not all, kitties seem to enjoy. Our feline friends seek out sunny spots and enjoy sitting in sunlit windows, relaxing or napping during the day. The sunlight that provides cats with toasty warmth may also make them feel happy. The windows that provide Fluffy with that sunlight give him the best of the outdoors while keeping him safely inside.

Toasty Warmth

One of the main reasons cats lay in the sunlight is because sunlight keeps them warm. A kitty's body expends energy to maintain a steady temperature. When Fluffy goes to sleep, his metabolism slows down and his body temperature drops slightly. Sunlight helps to keep him warm while he's sleeping to make up for this temperature drop, according to the Pet Assure Newsletter. To conserve energy while he's awake, your kitty will also seek out toasty spots, such as those in the sun, so that his body doesn't have to expend extra energy to stay warm, especially if he's an older cat.

Improved Mood

Sunlight makes Fluffy happy by increasing the amounts of chemicals in his body that improve his mood. The light of the sun increases his bodily melatonin, a hormone that regulates his sleep cycles, along with serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter, according to the Catster website. When in balance, these two hormones can help make your kitty feel good. When the cat's exposed to less sunlight in the winter months, the levels of these hormones drop, resulting in seasonal affective disorder. This condition results in depression, lethargy and even aggression. Sitting in a sunny, warm window during the day helps to prevent seasonal affective disorder.

Entertaining View

Cats enjoy lying in windowsills and sunny patios not only to sunbathe, but also to take in the sights. Those sunny spaces are his access to the outdoors, through which he can watch birds, people, and other interesting happenings. Both window perches and screened-in patios provide safe means of enriching your indoor cat's environment, the American Humane Association website says. By allowing Fluffy to watch the world outside through a window or screen, you avoid the health and safety risks involved in allowing him to roam freely outdoors. While he's lying in the sun, you might notice that Fluffy becomes enthralled in the fascinating shadows or dust motes he sees, the Daily Cat website says.

Sun Concerns

Unlike people, cats don't absorb enough vitamin D to maintain their healthy by lying in the sun, according to an article published in the April 1999 issue of "The Journal of Nutrition." Fortunately most commercial cat foods contain vitamin D if they follow the feeding guidelines of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Frequent sunbathing may cause skin cancer in cats, but keeping your kitty indoors may reduce the chances of this happening even if she lies in patches of sunlight on the floor, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website says. Watch out for skin issues by regularly checking your kitty's ears, eyelids and nose for signs unusual lumps, bumps or lesions.

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