Why Do Cats Like Sleeping on Warm Things?

Make a mental list of "things cats love." Got it? Is "curling up in a fluffy ball and napping on anything remotely warm" on the list? If it's not, you clearly don't know a ton about cats—but that's okay! We're all learning new things every day! Even if it made the list, however, there's a decent chance you don't actually know why cats are so prone to catching z's on any warm surface they can find. Here's a primer on this most common of cat behaviors.

cat pet sleeping on work desk
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What is a cat's normal body temperature?

Fun fact: The warm thing your cat is sleeping on might actually feel kind of cool to her.

Cats' normal body temperature range is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, with 101.5 degrees often cited as a definitive "normal" body temperature (the same way 98.6 degrees has become the official "normal" human temperature). With a higher natural body temperature comes a higher tolerance to heat, which is why Fluffy can nap, perfectly content, on your radiator when you've set the temperature to be in the 70s.

Do cats seek out warm places more than dogs do?

Sleeping at work
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While many dogs love a good sunbathing session, cats do seek out warm places more than their canine cousins. Like cats, dogs have a higher natural body temperature than humans (theirs is typically in the 101-102 degree range), so they tend to prefer hotter temperatures than we relatively-hairless humans do. Dogs aren't as good at keeping themselves cool and regulating their own body temperature as cats are, however, which is probably why they're less prone to seeking out makeshift heating pads to doze on.

Does a cat's fur keep them sufficiently warm?

Fat Cat Laying On Back
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You might assume that your cat's soft, luscious fur coat mostly functions as a built-in heating system, but that's not totally true. While a cat's fur does help keep them warm in the winter, it also helps keep them cool during times of extreme heat. The fluffiness of the fur creates a little bubble of air around the cat, which protects its skin from the elements, be they hot or cold.

Should you ever worry about your cat sleeping on warm things?

Even though your cat loves to nuzzle up to warm stuff, there can be too much of a good thing. And remember how your kitten's fur coat can help keep her cool in addition to keeping her warm? Well, that can be the source of some trouble when it comes to heat-based napping.

Speaking to the Mother Nature Network, cat expert Pamela Merritt explained that "while [cats'] fur is insulating, this can work against them when they use our heat devices. They can cuddle up to something warm, not realize it is getting warmer, and their fur will keep them from noticing until it is quite hot."

White kitten sleeps balanced on a radiator
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Short answer: You should keep an eye on your cat and not let her sleep on something outrageously hot. But, like, duh, right?

Are cats ever uncomfortable when they sleep?

Based on the range of bizarre positions they sleep in, it probably seems like cats are incapable of discomfort, as long as they're unconscious. In a way, this is kind of true—cats can sleep comfortably just about anywhere. This is probably due to their kind-of-sort-of liquid state (seriously—there's science to back up the idea that cats do, at times at least, qualify as liquids).

kitten sleeping on the printer
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So, you can at least take comfort in knowing that if your cat is snoozing somewhere, be it warm or cool, she's comfy and you don't need to worry (unless you need your laptop, of course).