If you have been around cats long enough, you must have noticed their propensity to sit or nap near warm things. They might snuggle beside you, curl under a blanket, bask in the sun, or sleep near the radiator or heat vent.
But have you ever wondered why they do this?
Cats have a higher internal body temperature than ours. And that’s why they feel warm to the touch. So naturally, they need warmth to keep their temperatures constant whenever the body starts cooling down.
However, that is not always the reason felines like warm things.
We explore these reasons in depth below. We also include tips on how to keep your furry friend warm safely. Keep reading to learn about that and more.
The 5 Reasons Why Cats Love Warmth
You might be tempted to think cats don’t need to keep warm because of their thick fur coats. You would be wrong. Cats love warm things despite having long coats and undercoats.
There are several reasons why your furry friend loves cuddling or napping next to warm things. We discuss them below.
1. Desert Ancestry
Felines descend from desert ancestors. That means they are adapted to living under extreme temperatures. It’s, therefore, no wonder that they will instinctively seek out warm places. The warmth provides them with a sense of security.
If there is a warm place in the home, your cat is bound to find it. You will see it basking in direct sunlight, napping beside your laptop, cuddling against you, or curling under a blanket.
2. It Reminds Them of Kittenhood
Kittens can’t regulate their body temperature during the first few weeks after birth. Therefore, they will curl up beside their mother for warmth and security.
But just like kneading, cats don’t abandon this behavior as they age.
It, therefore, shouldn’t come as a surprise when your cat snuggles next to you. The warmth probably makes the cat feel safe because it reminds it of its mother.
Age can affect how much heat a kitty needs to stay warm. Case in point, kittens and seniors are more susceptible to cold.
But while kittens depend on their mother to stay warm, older cats don’t have this advantage. Moreover, conditions such as arthritis can worsen their discomfort during cold weather. As such, they must seek out external heat sources to maintain a constant internal body temperature.
4. Health Issues
A decline in health could affect how often a cat seeks warm or cool spots. So, if your furry friend is looking for warmth more or less than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.
That is especially true if the strange behavior is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite, lack of energy, and lack of interest in play. Checking with your vet as soon as possible is advisable if you notice such changes.
5. Higher Average Body Temperature
Cats have an average body temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit for humans. That’s why your furry friend always feels warmer than you.
It takes a lot of energy to maintain this internal body temperature. By getting heat from external sources, a cat can conserve energy for other essential activities such as hunting, exercising, and defending itself.
A higher core temperature also means they have a higher heat tolerance. It’s, therefore, no surprise that your cat can bask under the midday sun without a problem while you sweat profusely. It’s also why it can nap comfortably next to the radiator.
Another reason why cats can tolerate heat is that they can only sense it through a few points in their body. Their heat sensors are concentrated on their face.
Why Is the Fur Coat Not Enough?
One might assume a coat is sufficient to keep the cat as warm as needed. However, the thick fur can be as much a hindrance as it is helpful.
Granted, it will help keep the kitty warm during winter. However, its insulating properties also keep the cat cool in high temperatures. In short, it protects the skin from the elements, whether hot or cold.
Moreover, cats don’t necessarily seek warmth because they feel cold. Instead, their desert ancestry and mother’s cuddling during kittenhood attract them instinctively to the heat. The warmth makes them feel secure.
Do All Cats Crave Heat the Same Way?
As mentioned, kittens and older cats crave heat more because they can’t regulate their internal body temperatures effectively. However, the need for warmth varies depending on the breed.
For instance, some cats are adapted to cold environments and will have a long coat and thick undercoat. Examples include Maine coons and Ragdolls. These breeds may not need as much external heat as their counterparts. As such, they may avoid the sunny spots and not care much about the radiator or heating pad.
On the other hand, cats with shorter coats will require more warmth to maintain their internal body temperature. The Sphynx cat is a great example. This feline is practically “naked” and will lose heat faster than other breeds.
Why Sleeping Near the Heat Can Be Dangerous
While keeping your cat warm is imperative, staying too long near an artificial heat source such as a radiator can be dangerous. The insulating effects of their fur coat can hinder them from feeling the heat until it’s hot enough to burn them.
A cat usually won’t notice until the temperature reaches 126 degrees Fahrenheit. By this time, it might be too late.
Cats are mischievous and can cause fire accidents too. For example, they could knock over a candle and burn your house. They can also pull down the curtains over the baseboard heater and start a fire.
How to Keep Your Cat Safe from the Heat
The thick fur coat makes it harder for the cat to perceive heat as we do. So, if you’re not careful, your kitty could get burned while napping near heat sources such as radiators, heating pads, and heated footrests.
Luckily, there are a few measures you can take to prevent that. They include the following:
Keep an Eye on Your Cat
Always stay alert if your furry friend loves napping next to hot objects. First, ensure they don’t get too close. You can keep their favorite blanket close to the heat source, allowing them to enjoy the warmth at a safe distance.
Also, don’t let them sit there for too long. Remember, cats don’t sweat like us. Therefore, watch out for signs such as panting or excessive licking of their fur.
Accidents can happen too. So, ensure your cat does not behave mischievously. For instance, playing with the drapes near the baseboard heater is dangerous. They could get caught in the heater, causing a fire outbreak.
Cuddle With Your Cat
Cuddling your cat can help keep them warm, thus discouraging them from seeking warmth from dangerous places. Often, it’s the cat that initiates the cuddling. But you can also try making the first move.
However, please don’t force your cat to cuddle when it’s not in the mood. Although it might gently push you away, it could also bite or claw you.
Keep Candles Away
Your cat is not safe when keeping warm next to a candle. First, it could burn its whiskers. Also, it could knock the candle over and risk starting a fire.
Therefore, keeping candles away is better if you have a cat. But if you must have one, place it strategically where the cat can’t reach it.
Consider Safer Alternatives
Safer heat sources will discourage your cat from napping near dangerous objects such as radiators. For instance, you can buy a heated pet bed. It is usually pressure activated and will start warming up when the cat enters.
Additionally, you can ensure your cat gets enough sunlight by clearing the spaces in the house where the sunlight hits. Place a blanket or pillow on these spots for added comfort.
Installing a window perch could also do the trick.
Cats love getting close to warm things when they feel cold. They have a higher average body temperature than humans and seek warmth to compensate when temperatures get too low.
However, cats don’t necessarily crave warmth because they feel cold. Most times, they do that instinctively. Their desert ancestry makes them feel secure in warmer environments, and cuddling near you reminds them of the warmth and security they got from their mother as kittens.
Whatever the reason, you must ensure your cat stays warm safely. Never allow it to remain near artificial heat sources like radiators for too long to avoid getting burned. Also, consider safer alternatives such as cuddling, heated pet bed, and blankets.
Featured Image Credit: Hadrian, Shutterstock