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Why Do Cats Like the Sun So Much? 8 Possible Reasons


May 15, 2023
siamese cat meowing under the sun


siamese cat meowing under the sun

Cats have a reputation for loving the sun. Whether it’s lying on a windowsill or snoozing in a patch of sunbeams, cats seem to be attracted to sunlight like moths to a flame. But why? Let’s explore some of the reasons cats may be so attracted to the sun.


The 8 Reasons Cats Like the Sun So Much

1. Warmth

Cats are warm-blooded animals and need an outside source of heat to remain healthy and comfortable. They tend to prefer temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and need to maintain a body temperature of at least 90 degrees. Sunlight is a great way to soak up some much-needed warmth, especially during colder months. Cats can also regulate their body temperatures more easily by moving in and out of the sun’s rays.

2. Vitamin D

Cats need Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones, muscles, and a strong immune system. Sunlight is one of the main sources of this vital nutrient in nature, so cats may be drawn to it as a way to stay healthy.

white cat lying on the ground
Image Credit: Photokrat, Shutterstock

3. Comfort

Cats have naturally thick fur coats and may find lying in the sun more comfortable than nestling into a bed or blanket. Sunlight helps cats regulate their body temperatures, while radiating warmth and comfort all around them.

4. Hunting Instincts

Sunlit patches of grass offer cats an ideal opportunity to better see and hunt small prey like mice, birds, and insects – a skill that goes back to their wild ancestors. Cats may be attracted to the sun’s rays for this same reason: it gives them a better chance at spotting potential food sources.

5. Increases Alertness & Awareness

Sunlight is a great way for cats to stay alert and aware of their surroundings, so they can spot potential threats more quickly and react accordingly. Sunlight also gives cats an opportunity to scan the area for food sources that may have been missed during the night.

White Cat rubbing against male legs outdoor sunlight
Image Credit: Sergey Zaykov, Shutterstock

6. Stimulates Appetite

The warmth and light from the sun can stimulate a cat’s appetite, so they may be drawn to it when they’re feeling peckish. Sunlight can also improve a cat’s overall mood and help them maintain a regular eating schedule.

7. Marking Territory

Cats may use the sun as a way to mark their territory by leaving behind their scent in the sun-warmed grass or ground. This is especially common in cats that spend most of their time indoors, as this helps them create an invisible border for their home turf.

8. Relaxation & Stress Relief

Finally, spending time in the sun can be incredibly relaxing and stress relieving for cats – providing them with much-needed mental rest from everyday activities like grooming and playing with toys.

Street red cat basking in the sun
Image Credit: Alexander Sobol, Shutterstock


Is Sunbathing Safe for Cats?

Yes, sunbathing can be safe for cats – as long as it’s done in moderation. Some cats are more sensitive to the heat and UV rays than others, so it’s important to monitor your cat’s behavior in direct sunlight and take breaks if needed.

Are There Any Risks to Sunbathing for Cats?

Yes, there are some risks associated with sunbathing for cats. Too much exposure to the sun can lead to overheating, dehydration, sunburns and skin cancer. It’s important to monitor your cat’s behavior in direct sunlight and take breaks if needed.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overheating?

Signs of overheating in cats include panting, drooling, weakness or lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, and seizure or collapse. If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms after spending time in the sun, move them into a cooler area right away.

Tabby white british shorthair cat in front of wooden shed looking to the side in sunlight
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Should I Put Sunscreen on My Cat?

No, cats should not wear sunscreen when sunbathing. Their fur will protect them from the sun, and most sunscreens are designed for human skin and contain harsh chemicals that can be toxic to cats. If your cat has short or no fur, there are sunscreens designed for pets, but these often aren’t necessary unless your cat will be spending a significant amount of time in the sun. If your cat is particularly sensitive to the sun, provide them with a shady spot or keep them indoors during peak hours of sunlight.

What Is the Best Sunbathing Spot for My Cat?

Cats love to sunbathe in spots that provide a good balance of warmth and shade, like near a window or on the deck. Make sure you choose a spot that’s out of direct sunlight during peak hours and provide them with plenty of water to keep them hydrated.

playful cat playing with crumpled paper balls on office desk in sunlight
Image Credit: Bondar Illia, Shutterstock

The 10 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe In the Sun

  1. Monitor your cat’s behavior in the sun and take breaks if needed.
  2. Choose sunbathing spots that provide warmth but also a good balance of shade.
  3. Provide plenty of water to keep your cat hydrated during sun exposure.
  4. Limit the amount of time your cat spends in direct sunlight.
  5. Be aware of the temperature – if it’s too hot outside, keep your cat indoors.
  6. Provide a shady spot for your cat in case they get too hot or need to take a break from the sun.
  7. Look out for signs of overheating such as panting, drooling, weakness or lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, seizure or collapse.
  8. Keep an eye on any changes to your cat’s skin after sun exposure and seek medical attention if needed.
  9. Avoid using sunscreen and other products that are not specifically designed for cats on their skin and fur when sunbathing.
  10. Remember to have fun with your cat – but also take extra care to keep them safe in the sun.

What Ways Can I Help My Cat Stay Cool in the Summer?

There are a few easy ways to help your cat stay cool in the summer, such as providing them with a shallow bowl of cold water or fresh ice cubes to lick, misting them with a spray bottle of water, and using fans or air conditioning to reduce the temperature in your house.



Cats love the sun – and for good reason! Sunlight provides cats with warmth, vitamin D, comfort, mental stimulation, protection, increased alertness and awareness, appetite stimulation, scent marking opportunities and relaxation. It’s important to monitor your cat’s behavior in direct sunlight and take breaks if needed to make sure they don’t overheat. With the right precautions in place however, sunbathing can be a great way for cats to relax and enjoy their time outdoors.

Featured Image Credit: Anatolly Karlyuk, Shutterstock

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