If you’ve ever had a cat, you’ve probably seen them lying down and chilling in a sunbeam. They shut their eyes, loosen up their muscles, and sometimes even doze off in the cozy heat of the sun. But do cats only go for the sunlight because it’s warm, or is there something more to it? And most importantly, do kittens require sunlight if adult cats enjoy basking in the sun?
Cats and kittens require sunlight as it is crucial for their health. Like humans, kittens produce vitamin D and therefore need some exposure to direct sunlight each day. While pet foods may provide vitamin D supplements, it is not a substitute for natural sunlight.
Here’s what you should know about cats and how much sunlight they should receive each day.
Should Newborn Kittens Be In The Dark
When it comes to sunlight, newborn kittens are a special case. Because they receive a portion of their vitamin D from their mother’s milk, it is not as crucial for them to be exposed to the sun.
According to most vets, it’s best to keep baby cats away from bright lights as it can bother their growing eyes.
Kittens might also feel uncomfortable if they are exposed to excessive light when they are newborns. Even though their eyes may be closed and they may not have full vision, they can still sense variations in light. Since they are not accustomed to light yet, it may not provide them with much comfort until their eyes are fully developed and they can see their surroundings.
Do Kittens Need To Be Exposed To Sunlight
Once kittens are no longer newborns, it’s a good plan to begin exposing them to sunlight. Keep in mind that sunlight is not as important when your kitten is still nursing, but it’s beneficial to start earlier so they can produce vitamin D for improved growth and stronger muscles and bones.
According to most veterinarians, it is advised to let your pets enjoy 30-40 minutes of direct sunlight every day. It is best to divide this time into multiple sunbathing sessions to ensure they get the necessary vitamin D without the risk of overheating or getting sunburned.
When Can Kittens Be In The Sun
It’s not a good idea for kittens to be exposed to direct sunlight until their eyes open, but there are other things to think about even after their eyes are open. One important thing is that you shouldn’t bring your kitten outside until they’ve had their first set of vaccinations, including the one for rabies.
So, basically, lots of kittens shouldn’t spend too much time outside in the sun for a few months.
Instead, you can allow your kitten to soak up the sun’s rays by opening windows or using other barriers that provide safety and comfort within your home.
Enclosed catios can still be risky for your cat before they receive their vaccinations, as there’s always a chance that small animals or bugs could find their way inside.
Do Kittens Like Sunlamps
While sunlamps can be beneficial for kittens, they are not essential. It is ideal to choose sunlights that replicate the characteristics of natural sunlight as it can improve the well-being of your kitten. However, it is important to note that most kittens require sunlight that provides both light and warmth in order for them to utilize it.
If you want to, you can use both light and a heat lamp, but it might not work as well as getting sunlight, which gives off its own warmth.
At first, it seems that most cats still prefer sitting in a sunny window or a sunbeam on the floor rather than using a sunlamp.
Why Do Cats Sunbathe So Much
Cats sunbathe for a few reasons. One reason is that it allows them to absorb vitamin D from the sun, which makes them feel good and improves their overall health.
Cats might also have natural instincts that discourage them from being active and hunting during the daytime, so when they encounter bright sunlight, it could signal to them that it’s time to rest and wait for more favorable hunting opportunities later.
However, the main reason why cats love sunbathing is because it provides them with extra warmth. Despite their fur, cats generally prefer slightly warmer environments than their owners, so basking in a sunbeam helps them achieve a more comfortable temperature.
What Temperature Is Too Hot For Kittens
While it’s nice for kittens to bask in the sunlight, there is a potential danger of overheating. Temperatures above 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit are unsafe for both kittens and cats.
However, even though sunbeams can become very hot, the air around them is typically cooler.
Kittens will also move away from a sunbeam if it becomes too hot, as long as they have a cooler place to go.
Therefore, if the temperature in your home is below 90 degrees and your kitten can freely move between areas with sunlight and shade, they will be okay.
Things To Consider
If you’re unsure if your cat needs more sunlight or don’t know how to give them outdoor time, you can ask your vet for advice. Creating a catio is a good idea, but it may not be practical for everyone.
Instead, you could consider training your cat to walk on a harness so that you can take them outside for brief walks. Although a walk in the backyard may not provide your cat with sufficient sunlight, it can still be beneficial.
It’s a good idea to have a window that can be opened so that your cat can get the complete range of sunlight. You might even notice that your kitten enjoys sitting close to the window to catch a whiff of the outdoor air!
Don’t forget to ensure that your kitten has lots of water available near their favorite sunny spots. Water can help them cool down quickly and is important for keeping them hydrated and preventing stomach and kidney issues as they age. You can find more information about this topic here.