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Do Cats Sweat?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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The day is hot humid day – it's the kind of day when you start sweating just walking to your car. After a few minutes of vigorous activity you find yourself swimming within your own shirt.

People sweat. And while profuse sweating may be uncomfortable for you, it is an efficient method for your body to regulate its temperature. Our sweat glands help regulate body temperature by bringing warm moisture to the surface of the skin (as sweat), which causes cooling as the water evaporates. Because sweat glands are located all over the human body, cooling takes place over a large surface area, better helping the body cool.

How Do Pets Sweat? In this article we will discuss cats but for those of you interested in dogs, read our article – How Do Dogs Sweat

How do cats cool their bodies? You generally don't see cats "sweating" or "panting". On a hot day, you may see a cat and dog - the dog is panting like crazy while the cat is leisurely laying there grooming, seemingly unaffected by the heat.

So, do cats sweat?

Yes they do. Cats sweat through their paws. But the surface area of their paws is relatively small so in the big picture, this is not an effective cooling mechanism.

What else do cats do to minimize their body heat?

  • Cats generally seek out shady spots and rest. They may rest on cool surfaces such as tile or hardwood floors, or in the shade under bushes.

  • Cats generally don't hunt or exert themselves when it is extremely hot.

  • Cats will groom. This is a very common heat lowering mechanism. Cats will lay back and appear to be leisurely grooming but they are actually working to cool themselves. Licking themselves is actually a mechanism for cooling. When their saliva evaporates off their fur, it works to lower their body temperature (similar to us when sweat evaporates off our skin).

  • When in distress in extremely hot conditions, cats will pant. When all other mechanisms for cooling fail, cats will pant. This generally occurs at near distress temperatures (or if there is another underlying medical problem).

    A cat's normal body temperature is within the range of 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If his temperature rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the cat may suffer heat exhaustion. At 107 degrees, heat stroke can occur with potentially catastrophic consequences. Heat stroke can cause brain damage and even death.

    A cat that is overheated will appear sluggish or perhaps confused. His gums and tongue may appear bright red, and he will be panting hard. The cat may vomit, collapse, have a seizure and may go into a coma.

    An overheated cat is a real emergency situation. Get him to a veterinarian immediately. If possible, immediately pour slightly cool water on him to begin the cooling process. On the way to the veterinary clinic, cover him with cool wet towels. Don't use ice-cold water. For more information heatstroke – go to Heatstroke in Cats.


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