Even under Singapore's perpetual summer heat, you may find your cat choosing to lie at places around the house where the sun's rays are casting strongly on. What makes sunbeams so attractive that Puss chooses it instead of the comfy bed you spent a substantial amount on?
While some believe that cats bask under sunlight in order to absorb Vitamin D, that is not the case at all. Although humans, when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, create Vitamin D through synthesis, felines do not process the vitamin in the same manner.
So why then do cats scurry to sunbeams whenever they spot them around the house? Warmth is one key reason; especially for the kitties living in other countries where there is winter. They likely seek warmth in the sunlight.
However, the reason why cats seek our sun rays even in the heat is because it helps them conserve energy. No, Puss doesn't run on solar power, but staying warm and regulating its body temperature becomes easier when it lies under sunlight, particularly when it sleeps.
By doing this, it offsets the drop in basal metabolism that comes with the shutdown of certain body processes when the cat snoozes, which will allow it to put the energy it gets from its food to other uses.
Finally, the cats' inclination to sunlight is possibly genetic. Many of our domestic felines descended from wild cats from the deserts of the Middle East, and are thus more accustomed to the heat than we are.
They have an ability to throw off excess heat easily. Even when the weather is hot by our standards, our short-haired furkids may actually be feeling cold. This, of course, is breed-specific. Norwegian Forest cats, Persians and Maine Coons rarely feel chilly.
*This article was updated on 26 Apr 2021. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 21 Apr 2016.