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Does Your Cat Prefer Sun or Shade in Hot Weather?

My cats prefer the shade of a tree or the cool cement of the garage. What about your cats?

 |  Jun 13th 2013  |   11 Contributions


It gets downright hot and way too muggy in the southern part of the U.S. It usually starts in the late spring and lasts until late autumn. It definitely takes a lot of getting used to if you’re not originally from the South. It took me a few years to adjust when I first moved here from the Midwest. I mean, it gets hot and muggy in corn country, too. However, it’s usually just in the summertime and not most of the middle part of the calendar year. Also, as I get older, I seem to be more aware of the heat and humidity. I would like to think that I’m in my prime. However, my body tells me differently more often than in years past.

A perfect shady spot for Momma Kitty.

When I was young, I would play outside from sunrise to sunset in the summertime. I went on to play the position of catcher for some semi-pro baseball teams and never let the heat slow me down. I can only recall one time where my shin guards, chest protector, and mask needed to be ripped off quickly before I succumbed to heat exhaustion. After I made it back to the dugout, I sat on the bench, dunked my head in some ice water, and drank a quart of Gatorade. I wiped my body with a towel, put the gear back on, and was ready for the next inning.

Rusty likes the cool driveway, while Momma Kitty is contemplating going back inside.

I’ve noticed my cats are getting a lot like me. Most of them really dread the warm and muggy weather. When they were young they would stay outside all day playing with each other, chasing critters in the hot open fields and sunbathing every opportunity that they had. These characteristics lasted for about two seasons. Now, you’d never catch them playing, chasing, hunting, or lounging in the direct sun. They’ll only stay in the sun when the breeze is blowing and the temperatures are below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets hot outside, they take cover under the nearest tree, bush, or parked automobile they can find. They’ll stay there the entire day until the sun goes down and dinner is in their food bowls.

Smokey hanging out in the shade.

One of my cats, Momma Kitty, is the queen of staying in the coolest places she can find. She’s the oldest of the bunch and has never shed her winter girth from a couple of years ago. She can always be found within a dozen steps of the house and lying under the nearby cherry tree or Leland cypress. When it gets even too hot and humid to lie under the trees, she will find her way back into the garage. Our garage is their sleeping area and the temperature always stays consistently low. The coolness of the cement floor in the garage makes an ideal location to cool her underside.

Cat in sunglasses by Shutterstock

I have friends and clients who have indoor cats who have grown accustomed to the air conditioning and fans that they run in the house. They may sunbathe in the windows, but only if a fan is blowing in their direction. They love going out on the back shaded decks and screened porches early in the morning. However, when it starts to heat up a little outside, they’re at the door ready to get back inside. They’ll rest inside close to the air ducts coming on the floor or on the tiled kitchen or bathroom floors.

Angelica prefers a soft bed inside.

I suppose that our cats are a lot like some of us. We like the idea of being able to enjoy the sun and fun just like when we were young. In small amounts, the sunshine throughout the day can be a great thing and provide the vitamin D our bodies need. I have to assume our cats feel the same way and benefit from the sun as well. Unfortunately, as we get older we tend to slow down a little. We get acclimatized to the air conditioning and fans blowing in our homes. We get a little (okay, a lot) more lazy and fixated on our computers and televisions. It’s my guess that our cats tend to follow our lead. I know they match the energy (or lack of energy) that we exude. Since we often stay well hidden most of the day, our cats do as well. Or maybe it’s just me.

Should I go back inside where it is cooler, or hang out here?

I think I’ll turn off the computer now and step outside for some sunshine. Oops. I almost forgot my misting fan and frozen drink!

Does your cat prefer to be indoors during the summertime? Is your cat a sunbather? Let’s hear from you in the comments!

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