So, Gidget loves hot weather. Give her a heatwave and she has the time of her life, snoozing outside in temperatures of 36°, 38°, even 40°C. (That’s 97–104°F for the Americans.) I was remarking on this to my family and my sister mentioned that cats' thermoneutral zone (i.e. the temperature range where the body doesn’t have to expend any extra energy maintaining the right body temperature) is much higher than humans', at around 32°C (compared to humans' 21°C, so long as you wear clothes!). This stunned me so much I had to look it up, but yup, it’s true: this veterinary researcher vouches that cats' thermoneutral zone is around 30–38°C . Suddenly, all cats' wintertime behaviour makes sense: obsessively seeking out sunbeams, sleeping on humans' laps, or curling up as close to the heater as they can possibly get… (one of my childhood cats even managed to singe her whiskers this way, and wound up with a Salvador Dalí moustache for a few months). Of course, I’m not going to crank my household heating up to cater to this (I found one page, clearly written by a cat, which suggested keeping your house a toasty 30°C at a minimum at all times), but it’s a good thing to be aware of. If nothing else, it means I can quit worrying about her welfare just because she’s gone out on a scorching hot day.
Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.