Rising temperatures, stress, illness, excitement, and hyperactivity trigger a brain response that signals the cat to take action to cool down. However, because cats are almost entirely covered with a dense coat, they can not only sweat to remove excess body heat.
Cats have eccrine sweat glands in the hairless areas of the body that they use to sweat. These are on the paw pads, nose, lips, chin, and skin around the anus. The evaporation of sweat in cats has a cooling effect despite the small surface area. It maintains body temperature between 100.4 and 102.6 °F (38.0 and 39.2 °C).
Although cats have moist mouths, tongues, and noses, they are not for sweating.
So you should not see a cat with its tongue out, panting like a dog, because that’s more likely a sign of heat stroke.
Cats have other ways to lower their temperature. For example, they can lick their fur and cool down while the moisture evaporates.
Do Cats Have Sweat Glands?
It is unlikely that you will ever see your cat sweat.
Cats only have eccrine sweat glands on the hairless body parts, and this surface area is tiny. Occasionally, however, on hot summer days, you may observe cat footprints that result from sweating.
When a cat’s body temperature is too high, it sends a signal to its brain.
The brain, in turn, sends a message to the eccrine sweat glands to start sweating. This is how the cat tries to prevent overheating.
How Cats Sweat
The cat’s cooling system is not as extensive as ours, but still effective.
Cats are alternate warmers, meaning they can maintain a constant body temperature of 100.4 to 102.6 °F (38.0 to 39.2 °C).
Cats have a tiny number of sweat glands all over their bodies, but most are covered by fur.
This makes them less effective, so cats must rely on other cooling methods.
However, cats have far fewer sweat glands than humans. You will rarely see them sweating, even on hot days.
You may notice your cat leaving a trail of paw prints on a paved or tiled surface when it is hot.
That’s sweating in action. A cat’s paw pads contain sweat glands essential for maintaining a healthy body temperature.
Some theories state that paw sweat not only cools the body but also contains and emits pheromones. These pheromones are species-specific chemical signals that help the cat communicate with other cats.
However, the paws have only a small surface area that does not provide significant cooling.
Therefore, cats need other cooling mechanisms to keep their bodies at a safe, comfortable temperature.
A cat’s nose may appear moist because the skin around the nostril called the rhinarium, covers the nose.
The sweat glands on the rhinarium produce moisture. The water in a cat’s nose then evaporates, just like sweat on the skin, and helps cool the cat.
A cat’s internal tear duct also produces a fluid that can wet the nose. Some cats lick their nose to evaporate another layer of moisture, increasing the cooling process.
But the reason for a cat’s wet nose can sometimes be much more straightforward. Perhaps your cat recently drank water from her bowl, wetting her nose.
However, a dry nose is not a cause for concern. If a cat enjoys sunbathing, the nose will naturally appear dry when the sun evaporates the moisture.
How Do Cats Cool Themselves?
Cats have only a small number of sweat glands. Sweating alone is not enough to regulate a cat’s body temperature when she begins to overheat.
For this reason, grooming can help her cool down. When a cat licks her fur and skin, the saliva evaporates and cools the skin.
This is quite similar to the sweat that evaporates in humans. Cats commonly use this technique to remove excess heat.
While this behavior is routine, excessive grooming is not due to dry, itchy skin or skin conditions. Sore skin can be a sign of a health problem.
Cats are intelligent animals and know several ways to lower their body temperature.
Cats also look for a shady place to rest when they get too hot.
Stretching out on a cool surface, such as cold tile or the floor of an air-conditioned room, can help lower their body temperature.
They also like to nap during the day when it gets hot. That’s why cats hole up during the day but become more active again at night when it’s colder.
When a cat gets too hot, it may pant. Panting causes saliva to evaporate from the tongue. This is another effective cooling process.
However, panting should only last a few minutes. If it lasts longer, your cat may show stress symptoms or extreme overheating.
If this is the case with your cat, intervention may be needed. Move your cat to a cool, dark place and provide water.
Turn on the air conditioner or place a fan nearby to provide adequate airflow. This will help you speed up the cooling process.
It may be a surprise that fur can prevent the body from getting too much heat when it is warm by slowing down heat absorption.
Cats, especially longhaired cats, shed their thick undercoat in the summer. This undercoat is primarily used to retain heat in the winter.
So, in warm weather, the cat doesn’t need the undercoat. The remaining outer coat takes care of the heat.
Although shaving long-haired cats in the summer may seem like a good idea, it can be counterproductive.
The coat is an excellent barrier between the sun and the cat’s skin. Without it, a cat is more susceptible to sunburn and insect bites.
Shaving can also lead to dehydration as the cat gets hotter faster.
Do Cats Sweat When They Are Sick?
Cats are stoic animals and hide when they are sick.
But sweating can be a sign of illness. Whenever the body experiences a temperature rise, the brain signals to the sweat glands to start sweating.
While it is difficult to see a cat sweating, the fur may feel damp in extreme cases. A temperature consistently above 102.6 °F (39.2 °C) indicates something is wrong.
When a cat has a fever, it may show reluctance to move, shallow breathing, lethargy, depression, or loss of appetite.
Cats don’t just sweat because of illness, however. Excitement or overstimulation can also cause a rise in body temperature that triggers sweating.
You may notice that your cat holds its mouth open or starts panting to cool down.
If your cat calms down after about 20 minutes, his body temperature will likely begin to regulate naturally.
However, if your cat continues to show symptoms of overheating, it’s time to intervene.
Do Cats Sweat When They Are Stressed?
Stress or extreme anxiety can lead to sweating in cats.
Maybe you have noticed paw prints on the vet’s table during an exam? If so, they are sweat that occurs in response to stress.
When a cat panics or is in stressful situations, the body triggers a rush of stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and others.
There is an increase in the heart rate, and muscles tense to prepare the cat for fight or flight.
Once these body reactions occur, the sweat glands kick in to cool the body. They also balance the body’s electrolytes and fluids and moisturize the skin.
Cats may also pant excessively. This is part of the cooling process but can seem more worrisome than it is.
A cat’s body temperature rises during stressful situations, so it must do whatever is necessary to cool down.
Does Cat Sweat Smell?
Cats are spotless animals. They spend 50% of their time grooming themselves.
There are many good reasons for this, such as cleaning up injuries, removing dirt from their fur, and greasing their fur and skin.
However, one of the most important reasons for grooming is the cat’s need to hide its scent from predators. Most predators detect their prey by smell.
Cats have a keen sense of smell and can detect the scent of other animals.
Cat sweat, however, is odorless to humans. If you notice an unpleasant odor in your cat, another reason is probably the cause.
This may include skin diseases or bacterial infections that cause a fierce body odor. The odor is not always unpleasant, but it is usually distinctive.
A cat’s anal glands can cause a musky or fishy odor.
These small sac-like glands can become full and give off a foul odor when they need to be emptied. You can empty the glands with careful guidance, or a veterinarian can do this.
Dried feces or urine can leave a foul odor if not cleaned up.
If a cat has a severe stomach or urinary tract infection and has a toilet accident, it may not be able to clean itself. Human assistance may be needed to eliminate the odor.
Summary: Can Cats Sweat?
Cats may not have many sweat glands, but they are still helpful.
It’s rare for a cat to overheat actively, and that’s because cats are initially from warmer climates.
But that’s not all: they don’t just rely on their sweating system. For example, they hide in shady areas to regulate their body temperature.