You could ask: “what ambient temperature do cats prefer?”. The National Research Council in a study dated 2006 stated that cats prefer the ambient temperature to be much warmer than many species. The thermoneutral zone for domestic cats is 30-38°C (86-100°F).
I had never heard of the phrase “thermoneutral zone” before. I looked it up. As I understand it, it means a range of temperatures within which the animal’s body can maintain normal body temperature without the need to use energy beyond the normal energy used when resting (normal basal metabolic rate).
The thermoneutral zone for humans is 25-30°C. This applies to a naked man standing upright in still air. This is obviously higher than the normal room temperature because people wear clothes which reduce heat loss so that the room temperature can be somewhere in the region of 20°C.
It is interesting to note though that cats have a much higher thermoneutral zone than humans. Cat owners don’t take this into account. They keep their room temperatures at a figure which they prefer. It is an interesting thought that the domestic cat would like it a bit hotter which may be part of the reason why they curl up on your lap, or next to a radiator, or in the sun as it comes through a window, or in the airing cupboard, or anywhere in the house where the temperature is a little higher than the ambient room temperature. The word “ambient” means the immediate surroundings.
A common sense reason why the domestic cat prefers hotter ambient temperatures is because it’s wild cat ancestor is the North African wild cat. Clearly in that part of the world the ambient temperature is much hotter than in most other places.
I would have thought that the fact that the domestic cat is effectively wearing an overcoat all the time that they would prefer a cooler thermoneutral zone but apparently not.
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