Do cats need sunlight to be healthy and get vitamin D?

Do cats need sunlight?

Since many cats are indoor cats, I often hear the question do cats need sunlight to be healthy? Many animals, including humans, get vitamin D from exposure to the sunlight.

So many cat owners assume that cats also need sunlight to be healthy and produce vitamin D. But the simple answer is no, cats do not need sunlight. Sunlight in fact does not do anything at all as far as their health goes.

The sun’s rays do not penetrate the thick fur of a cat, so it does nothing for it. A cat gets vitamin D through it’s food, which is a good reason to make sure your feeding it quality cat food.

Cats are perfectly fine living their whole lives indoors. They will be happy and in fact safer from dangers, diseases and pest. They do not need full, direct sunlight from the outside.

Now having said that, we all know cats love to be in the sun! They always want to sit in a windowsill or lay down in a sunny spot where the sunlight is shining through.

So even though cats don’t need sunlight to be healthy, it’s still a good idea to let the sunshine into your home as much as you can. Or make a spot in one window for your cat to sit or lay down and sun itself.

Nobody wants to live in the dark, and the same is true for a cat. So again, do cats need sunlight, the answer is no. But please give your cat access to a sunny window for it’s overall well being, if not for it’s vitamin D health. 🙂


  1. i’m confused. there are sources that explain that cats produce vitamin d in their fur (like humans do in their skin), and then they ingest it when grooming. is this not true?

  2. HI Jen. The question of cats getting vitamin D from sunlight is often asked and often falsely told as true. Many animals, including humans do indeed get vitamin D, or at least some of it, from sunlight.

    However cats are very bad at converting vitamin D from sunlight, if at all. In the wild felines get vitamin D from the prey they eat. Domestic cats get it from cat food.

    Cats also require very little vitamin D compared to other animals. You will read many articles saying that cats need sunshine to produce vitamin D. That is flat out wrong and just shows they have not researched the subject.

    Consult feline vets and dietary sites and you will find that they agree cats do not produce vitamin D from sunlight. Again, they get it from their food, and they need very little of it.

    However cats do ENJOY sunlight, as we all can tell by how they love to spend time in windows and in the sun. So try to give an indoor cat access to a sunny spot. But no, cats do not need sunlight to produce vitamin D. 🙂

  3. thanks for a confident reply and confirmation for someone who lives all the way down in “Sunny” South Africa 🙂 You were the first “hit” on Google and saved me a bunch of time searching for answers! You obviously had the right answer for my question 🙂