Do cats need sun to be healthy? Well, yes and no. We don’t need sun for vitamin D. But cats need sunlight to regulate our body temperatures and help us conserve energy when we’re sleeping.
Do cats need sun to be healthy, Thomasina? I like to keep my blinds and curtains closed. But I’m afraid I’m harming my cat. — Worried Cat Mom
Hey, Worried Cat Mom!
Don’t worry about your cat. Cats need sun, but not to be healthy.
That said, could you leave just one blind or curtain open? Cats like to lie in the sun. That’s one of our all-time favorite things to do!
Cats need vitamin D to keep our immune systems functioning well, help with recovery, reduce inflammation and aid in absorbing calcium. It’s also important for bone growth.
But unlike humans, cats don’t absorb vitamin D through our skin. We might get a tiny bit if we’re lying in the sun and lick some off our fur. But the amount of vitamin D we need to stay healthy comes from our food. If you feed commercial cat food or follow a recipe to make homemade or raw, your cat should be getting the right amount. Just check the ingredients to be sure.
Be careful, too. Too much vitamin D can make cats really sick. If you’re sure your cat is getting the right amount in her food, adding a vitamin D supplement can be very dangerous.
The main cause of vitamin D toxicity in cats is rodent poison. But supplements are right up there, too. Check this list to see the signs of vitamin D poisoning in cats.
Cats like to lie in the sun because it feels warm, cozy and secure. There’s nothing more luxurious than stretching out for a nap in a patch of sunlight.
But there are two other reasons why we love lying in the sunlight, too.
The first is that sleeping in the sun can help us regulate our body temperatures, which are higher than yours. Your normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Ours is 102.5 degrees. So if you set the thermostat at 70-80 degrees, that feels a bit chilly to us. A sunny spot can help us keep our body temperature where it’s supposed to be.
Conserving energy is another reason why we like to lie in the sun. Our metabolism (What the heck is that??? My human typist added it) slows way down when we’re sleeping. The sunlight helps us store energy that we’ll need when we’re awake and ready to run and hunt.
Do you think you could compromise with your cat and leave just one blind or curtain open? It doesn’t have to be open all the way. Just enough for him to get some sun and see outside will work. He’ll be so grateful, and he’ll feel so much happier.
I hope this helps, Worried Cat Mom. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get on my way now. The sun’s shining in my favorite spot in the living room, and I need a nap!