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As a cat parent, you know your feline friend will stake claim to the best sun patch in the house and stay there for a long time — they love to hang out in the heat. But what temperature do cats like the most? And do you have to pay higher heating bills to accommodate your pet?
What Temperature Do Cats Prefer?
First, keep in mind that a cat's normal body temperature is between 99 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.2 and 39.2 degrees Celsius, compared to the average human body temperature.
Most people tend to be comfortable at room temperature, which is about 68 F or 20 C (not too hot, not too cold), but what temperature do cats like for their comfort? Much higher, around 86 F and 100 F or 30 C and 38 C, as cited by The Scientific World Journal.
What Temperature Do Cats Like at Home?
Cats love warm and cozy spaces, but you don't have to keep your thermostat set to sauna-level just for them. They can't ask you to turn up the heat (although they would if they could), and it's not exactly comfortable (or healthy) for you to turn your home into a steam room. However, you can establish an ambient temperature in your living space that works for you and your feline family members.
The Scientific World Journal article points out that because a cat's "thermoregulatory environment" (the temperature the surrounding area needs to be to maintain ideal body temperature) is typically lower than they prefer, it's important to set up hot spots around your house, such as warm bedding and, yes, boxes.
Cats are obsessed with hanging out in cardboard boxes for many reasons: shelter, security, comfort and warmth. You can also create seating and sleeping areas near windows and glass doors with a cushion, rug or blanket, but most cats will plop down on the floor to catch a catnap in a sunbeam.
What Temperature Is Too Hot for Cats?
Any temperature over 100 F or 38 C is too hot for cats. Despite their fondness for all things warm, it's possible for cats to become overheated. To cool off, they may seek out cool places like a bathtub or sink, and some cats may stick their faces in front of an air conditioning vent to catch the cold breeze.
Cats don't often suffer from heatstroke, but it can happen. If your cat shows signs of being overheated, including sweating, take steps to cool them off, including offering them plenty of cool, fresh water. If your cat's body temperature is higher than 104 F, it can be a sign of heatstroke or illness, so contact your veterinarian right away.
What About Seasonal Changes?
Depending on which part of the world you and your cat inhabit, seasonal changes may cause drastic temperature fluctuations.
In the northern hemisphere, for example, where temperatures regularly drop below freezing during certain months, you'll have to do more to keep your cat warm, explains the Cornell Feline Health Center. This way, when sweater-weather hits, they'll be nice and cozy. In areas where temperatures can soar, such as in Australia, the mantra is "keep your cat cool." Toss a few ice cubes in their water and provide lots of shady spots, recommends Vetwest Animal Hospitals.
What temperature do cats prefer? Cats thrive in consistent, comfortably warm environments with the option to cool off when necessary. You can help your cat by setting up "different temperature zones" in your home, says the American Veterinary Medical Association, so your cat can warm up or chill out, depending on their mood.
Christine Brovelli-O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in English and is an accomplished storyteller and lifelong pet lover. A professional member of the Cat Writers' Association, her work has received Muse Medallions and Certificates of Excellence. When she’s not exploring pet health and behavior, she’s busy mothering one child and four pets.