Why do Cats like Sunbeams?

If your house is like mine, you get at least one or two good sunbeams on your floor. If your cats are like mine, they will find the sunbeams and lie in them until they’re gone. Cats are drawn to sunbeams like magnets are drawn to metal; if you have a cat, and you have a sunbeam, there your cat will be a lot of the time. Why do cats like sunbeams?

Cats like sunbeams because they keep them warm

In my experience, the cats that get cold easily are the cats that like sunbeams the most. Our black cat, Gizmo, is a combination of Burmese and Bombay, and has short, fine, and thin fur. She is always cold, it seems, especially in the winter. We have a heated cat bed for her, but she’ll seek warmth under blankets and on laps. She’ll also seek warmth in sunbeams.


The biggest reason that cats like sunbeams is because of the energy that they must expend being cats. Their hunting style consists of short bursts of speed and lots of brainpower, because they have to be able to both outrun and outthink their prey. Their metabolisms run at a very high rate, too, which means that, by their very nature, they’re burning tons of energy.

Their diets don’t always have enough calories to fuel all their energy needs. Staying warm, and regulating their body temperatures, becomes easier if they lie in the sun. Cats like sunbeams because the sun warms them up, and keeps them warm, which allows their bodies to put the energy they get from their food to other uses.

In other words, if cats could run on solar power, they would. They already sort of do.


Why do cats like sunbeams even in the middle of summer?

The domestic cat is descended from a wild cat in the Middle East, which must have the ability to throw off excess heat easily. However, this is far more true of short-haired cats than long-haired cats. Where Gizmo, our only short-haired cat, might feel cold, our other three cats likely already feel warm. They don’t spend as much time in sunbeams as Gizmo does (though they do still spend a lot of time in them).


If you want to see some cute and funny evidence that cats like sunbeams enough to insist on staying in them, watch the video below: