Tuesday, December 22, 2009 1:24 PM

Why Our Cats Love Winter

Everyone knows that cats are desert animals, so you might wonder why I would say that ours love winter weather. Well, two reasons: Sunshine and the wood stove.

Most animals, whether warm- or cold-blooded, love radiant heat. Who hasn't, at one time or another, witnessed garden snakes or lizards basking in the warm sun on a stone wall? Anyone with cats and dogs will tell you that they will seek out a sunny spot on a cool day, and cats are notorious for napping on a sunny windowsill. Personally, my favorite time to soak up the rays is in the early spring, when the air is chill and sun is beginning to strengthen; there is nothing more relaxing and soothing than that type of heat!

Our cats are great sun worshippers. Since they are indoor pets, they never have to contend with cold weather, but that doesn't mean that they don't care about lying around in the sun. They don't do it because they're cold, but because it feels so good! We have a passive solar home, so at this time of year the sun shines in full-tilt through our huge front windows, nudging the temperature in the house into the mid-70s. This provides our cats with a plethora of sunny places in which to stretch out and relax. When they are in this "zone", they are as gooey and pliable as any cat can be!

When the sun goes down, we light up the wood stove down cellar. For maximum feline comfort, I have strategically placed comfy beds close, but not too close, to this source of radiant heat. Bear and Little Girl are addicted to this comfort, but Goldie is not. He loves the sunshine, but is somewhat indifferent to the wood stove. He'll hang out down cellar on occasion, but always acts guilty when we discover him lounging in front of the stove. The other two will sleep like the dead when the stove is roaring, but not Goldie. Well, as I've said before, gold cats are different!

Dogs also love wood heat, but a friend of mine told me a story about one of her dogs who became so inert from sleeping by the wood stove that he wouldn't even get up to go outside to do his business! Her veterinarian told her that this is not unusual with dogs, and that they need to be supervised and not allowed to spend too much time lying close to this source of heat. A word to the wise!

The moral of this story? Cats know how to relax and enjoy life, and we would do well to take our cue from them. Stay warm!
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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