Because cats evolved as desert animals, they seem to be able to cope with heat much better than our canine friends.
The large, thin ears of a cat provide an important mechanism that allows the blood flowing through the ears to cool.
Cats aren’t heavily equipped with eccrine sweat glands like we humans are; these glands allow us to get drenched in sweat all over our bodies.
According to the book Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop?, in warmer weather cats groom themselves more often, licking at their body. This puts saliva on their fur, which then cools them down as it evaporates.
Cats will also look for shade or a cool surface such as a sink or tile to sprawl themselves out on. You may often find little wet spots on your floor where your cat has walked.
Do cats sweat through their paws? Actually, that is the only place on a cat’s body that emits sweat.
Sweating Through Their Paws
Cat Owner’s Veterinary Handbook explains that felines’ sweat glands are found only in foot pads. If the cat becomes overheated (or frightened), she secretes sweat through her paws. At this point, she may resort to cooling herself by panting or licking her fur. However, unlike with dogs, a cat’s panting is usually more stress-related than heat-related.
If you feel that your kitty’s panting is from overheating during those hot summer months, take measures to cool her immediately. You might want to clip her fur, but do not clip it too close to the skin, as this will increase her chances of getting sunburn.
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Other Ways to Keep a Cat Cool
Don’t want to “mess up” her beautiful fur? Just clip the tummy area. It won’t be noticeable, but your cat will certainly find it more comfortable. You can also help keep your cat cool by wetting your hands and rubbing her. She’s sure to love you for doing either of these good deeds.
So, do cats sweat through their paws? Scott Nimmo, BVMS, MRCVS, says the answer is a definite yes. But because a cat’s paws are so small, sweating is not a sure-fire way to regulate her body temperature. If her body temperature rises to 105 degrees for any length of time, a cat is in danger of having a heat stroke.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Symptoms of a heat stroke in cats would be a lack of coordination, redness of the mucous membranes in the mouth and panting. Seizures are also possible.
Heat strokes in cats can be very serious, so if you suspect that your pet is at that stage, take her to your veterinarian ASAP. When you are en route to the vet’s office, cover your cat with cool, damp towels.
In this short video from 2010, Ron DeHaven, of the American Veterinary Medical Association, provides general tips on helping pets survive the summer heat: