Humans have millions of sweat glands on their skin. These glands are concentrated in specific areas, such as the soles of the feet and armpits, and antiperspirants and deodorants are often used to help control the resulting moisture and odor. Cats, on the other hand, do not have sweat glands in their bodies, so cats are often asked if they sweat. This bodily function in cats may differ slightly from humans, but cats definitely sweat.
How do cats sweat?
Cats sweat primarily from the footpads and nose with eccrine sweat glands. While cats technically have sweat glands in their skin, they are a different type of sweat glands called apocrine sweat glands. The apocrine sweat glands randomly secrete an oily substance in cats that acts like a pheromone.
The paw pads are where you might see your cat sweating while walking on hard floors or tables. Wet footprints can be evidence that your cat is sweating, especially during the warmer months and when your cat is stressed.
Why do cats sweat?
Sweating is to keep the cat’s body temperature normal or because the cat is stressed. Just like humans in the summer, if a cat gets too hot, it will start to sweat. As sweat begins to evaporate, it provides a cooling sensation to the paw pads, which may help lower body temperature. But because a cat’s paw pads don’t take up a lot of surface area and provide only a small amount of cooling capacity, cats cool down in other ways.
Cats also sweat when they are stressed. This usually happens when your cat is at the vet, traveling, or in a stressful situation at home if they jump on the counter or table and leave wet paw prints.
Why do cats pant?
Unlike dogs, cats don’t pant unless they are stressed, unable to breathe, or extremely overheated. Panting is not an effective way for cats to cool down their bodies, though, so if your cat is panting, it may need immediate help to regulate its temperature, calm down, or breathe. Panting allows hot air to escape from the chest, but like sweating, it’s not an effective way to cool your cat. Panting cats usually require immediate medical attention and should not be ignored.
What is the normal body temperature of a cat?
A cat’s normal body temperature is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat’s temperature exceeds 102.5 degrees, there may be sweaty paw pads and maybe even panting, so these are important things to be aware of as checking a cat’s temperature with a thermometer is not an easy task.
How to calm down your cat
Since panting and sweating through the paw pads is not an effective way to cool down, cats will often lick themselves to evaporate water from their bodies. You may see this happen more frequently during the warmer months, when cats may naturally struggle with the summer heat. This can provide a cooling effect and subsequently lower their body temperature. However, there are a few things you can do if you want to help your cat calm down. A fan can blow on your cat to provide a cool breeze, but you can also give your cat cold water and place your cat in the shade, air conditioner, or a cool surface like a tile floor, as long as your cat doesn’t hate it water, rinse with cool water, or use a large bowl to play with. Encouraging more playtime in the evening rather than in the heat of the day can also help your cat stay cool. Lastly, if your cat has long hair, consider shaving it off if the summer heat is too hot for it.
If you think your cat is overheating, don’t waste any time trying to cool it down when transporting it to your veterinarian. If a cat’s body temperature is too high for an extended period of time, seizures, permanent brain and organ damage, and even death can occur.