Do cats need sunlight? Indeed your cat loves to sleep under the sun. You can see pure happiness in their face while they “sun-bathe.” But do they actually need sunlight to do well?
Cats need sunlight like any other living being on the planet. They need it to figure out when they should change their coat, figure out what part of the day it is, regulate their body temperature when cold, and create vitamin D. Although they do not need it just to survive.
The rest of this article will go into detail about why cats like sunlight so much, why it isn’t necessary for them to survive, and whether or not vets recommend outdoor sunlight for your kitty.
DO CATS NEED SUNLIGHT?
If you have an indoor house cat that likes to lounge in the sun spots by the window all day, you may have wondered just why he loves it so much. Sunlight seems like it is essential to cats, and if humans need Vitamin D, then cats could, as well!
The truth, however, is that as much as cats enjoy the sunlight, they don’t need it to survive.
Although cats do indeed love the sunlight, they do not need it to survive. Humans get their Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, but cats do not. Time spent in the sun can still be beneficial for cats, however!
It is pleasant and relaxing, it helps cats regulate their body temperature, and overall can help keep your kitty comfortable.
DON’T CATS NEED VITAMIN D?
Yes, cats need Vitamin D, just like humans. However, while humans get our Vitamin D exposure from direct sunlight, cats get it from their diet.
Your kitty should be getting his Vitamin D from his food or supplements. Although laying in the sun is enjoyable for your cat, he will not be getting Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.
WHY DO CATS LIKE THE SUN SO MUCH?
Cats like the sun for several reasons. Firstly, cats are crepuscular creatures. This means that they are most active between dawn and dusk. However, during the daylight hours, that is their sleeping time—and where better to get in a good nap than in a nice, warm sun spot?
Cats love to be warm, and they can comfortably stand temperatures much warmer than humans can.
Lounging in the sun also helps cats regulate their body temperature. Since they are not expending any energy while sleeping, their bodies will cool down. Sleeping in the sun helps them compensate for this difference and save their body energy.
DO VETS RECOMMEND THAT CATS GET SUNLIGH?
Although cats cannot get Vitamin D from the sun, some vets still recommend that your pets should get twenty to forty minutes of direct sunlight every day.
However, if you have an indoor cat, this may prove difficult since the sunlight your cat loves to lounge in is filtered through the windows in your home. If you want to make sure your cat gets enough sunlight every day, try the following:
- Make sure there are windows without curtains
- If you have a balcony, let your cat out when there is sunlight
- Place cats tress near a window for your cat to get some light
- Walk your cat outdoor on a leash if possible
- Get a window perch for your cat
Here are some ideas of cats’ perches:
Cats are living beings, and like all living animals, the sun is part of life and necessary. Therefore, although cats are indoor, they cannot be segregated in a room and kept in the dark for very long periods.
SHOULD I LET MY CAT OUTDOORS?
If you have an indoor cat, you should be very careful about letting him outdoors, especially unsupervised. Letting cats outdoors can actually be very traumatic for your kitty and harmful to the ecosystem, as cats will hunt birds and other small animals.
In order to safely take your indoor cat outdoors, you can train your cat to walk on a harness. Although this may seem like a daunting task, once your kitty realizes that the harness means he gets to explore the great outdoors (also known as your backyard!), he will quickly adapt.
Some people also build “catios” (or “cat patios”) for their feline friends. This can be a screened-in portion of the yard where your cat can safely play in the grass without the risk of hunting or escaping.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CATS DON’T GET ENOUGH SUNLIGHT?
Cats can become depressed if they do not get enough sunlight. The presence of the sun or darkness throughout the day indicates cats that tell them how to regulate their level of activity.
During the night, cats are more active and tend to sleep through the day. Cats do not have watches; they use the sun to monitor time passing. Extended dark, or lack of sunlight, can affect cats’ mood and level of activity.
Due to the lack of sunlight, cats will experience a low level of serotonin (a chemical that affects mood) and melatonin ( which regulates sleep). The result is anxiety, sleep problems, depression, and drowsiness.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CATS GET TOO MUCH SUNLIGHT?
If cats are exposed to high temperatures ad too much sun, they can experience:
- Heat strokes
- Solar dermatitis
A heat stroke happens when cats are exposed to too much sun, and their body temperature rises over 105° F. If the temperature is not lowered, vital organs can be damaged, and cats can die.
You can recognize a heat stroke from the following symptoms:
- Restless behavior
- Sweaty feet
- Excessive grooming
- Rapid pulse and breathing
- Redness of the tongue
Although cats have fur, they still get sunburn. All cats can get it, but those hairless, with white or little hair, have higher chances to get consequences from too much sun exposure.
The body parts affected the most are the nose and ears. But also paws (especially if pink) and their groins or tummy, if they like to sleep on their back and sprawl out. So you can see that your cat got sunburned because of redness and irritation in some parts of their bodies.
Sometimes even blister can form. In addition, if cats get too much sun over a long period can develop Solar Dermatitis, a sort of skin cancer. To prevent your cat from getting sunburned here is what you can do:
- Use sunscreen for cats
- Prevent your cat from sleeping in the sun when it is too hot or for prolonged periods of time
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is laying in the sun good for cats?
Laying in the sun is good for cats when it is not done for too long. Cats are happy when they can lay in the sun, and they should enjoy it. However, cat owners should ensure they do not get sunburned or have a heat stroke.
Do cats like sunlight?
Cats like sunlight. They constantly search for warm places to sleep in. Sun coming through the window can make a spot of the house warm. Cats enjoy it a lot and like to relax in the heat.
Can cats live without sunshine?
Cats could live without sunshine, but it is not natural and normal. All living beings need sunlight to do well in life and stay healthy. Sun regulates all aspects of life, and although cats will not die from staying in the dark, it will not make them happy or healthier.
Do cats need a window?
Cats need windows if they live indoors. They need to watch outside for entertainment and enrichments. Cats need a way to watch birds and other moving objects to stay stimulated and enjoy their days.
How much sunlight do cats need?
Cats need around 20 to 30 minutes a day of sunlight when possible. Unfortunately, some winter days are cloudy and dark. But in those days, when the sun gets through, cats should benefit from it.