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Home > Cats > Are Heat Lamps Safe for Cats? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Are Heat Lamps Safe for Cats? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

close up of a heat bulb or lamp

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve spent much time around cats, you know just how much they love to be warm. You can frequently find cats snuggled up near space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, heater vents, and cozy bedding. Even during the summer, you’re likely to spot cats hanging out in warm sunbeams and other warm spaces.

Because of their love of staying warm, it might seem reasonable to use a heat lamp for your cat, especially if your cat lives outdoors. Are heat lamps safe for kitties, though? It turns out the answer is that yes,  heat lamps can be safe for cats, but they aren’t always safe and should be used with caution. Here’s what you should know.


What Is a Heat Lamp?

Heat lamps are a type of light that uses infrared light to emit heat, helping to warm the area around the light. Although they use light as their heat source, heat lamps do still create the same fire hazard and burn risk as any other heating element. So heat lamps should only be used under supervision and with multiple safety precautions in place.

white light bulb on a yellow surface
Image Credit: Riki Risnandar, Pexels

Are Heat Lamps Safe?

Heat lamps can be a safe option for keeping your cat warm, especially in the outdoors or drafty areas. Keep in mind, though, that strong drafts may be able to blow the heat lamp out of place, so it’s necessary to find a way to hold it securely in place. Heat lamps should generally be placed around 2 feet away from the cats, and they should be able to get away from the heat and so should not be used in very small spaces This means that if you’re heating a space for kittens, for example, they need to be able to crawl away from the heat if they start to get too hot. You must carefully follow set up advice from the manufacturer and select the right bulb wattage and appropriate lampshade.

These lamps should always be well out of the reach of the cat, especially with curious kittens around. It’s also extremely important that you ensure that the heat lamp is properly secured. A heat lamp falling into bedding, straw, or even a plastic box can start a fire. Any and all flammable materials should be well away from the heat lamp. If your cat comes into direct contact or gets too close to the heat lamp, they can sustain burns.

Can I Leave a Heat Lamp on All Day?

Like all heat sources, it’s best to use heat lamps only under direct supervision from an adult and not left on permanently. Things like heated cat houses, self-heating pet beds, and access to warm indoor spaces are better alternatives to using a heat lamp without supervision. If you are using a heat lamp to provide a warm space for feral cats, then you should check the lamp at least twice per day to ensure it is securely in place, working properly, and not showing any indications of malfunctioning. Always carefully follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for information specific to the particular heater you are using.

Heat Lamp
Image Credit: JumpStory


In Conclusion

Heat lamps can be a safe way to help keep your cat warm when used properly and under supervision. However,there are multiple things to consider when using a heat lamp and you must always read and follow the safety precautions and instructions specific for the device you are using. The distance from your cat, how the lamp is secured, the items around the lamp, and the space the lamp is in are all things that can impact the safety of a heat lamp. When in doubt, err on the side of caution when it comes to heat lamps. Although they can be safe, they can also be a major fire hazard and burn risk if used incorrectly.

Featured Image Credit: Félix Girault, Unsplash

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