When it's summer and temperatures are soaring, many people begin wondering how their cats keep cool. Do cats sweat, or do they regulate their temperatures by other means?
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Do cats sweat or pant when they're hot?
They do both! Cats sweat through their paws. However, this sweating mechanism isn't especially effective — cats have far fewer sweat glands than humans have. That's why your cat might also pant or perform other self-cooling behaviors, like seeking out shade or cool tile on a hot day.
Why do cats sweat?
Just like humans, cats sweat to keep cool down and regulate their body temperature. However, as we mentioned above, their sweating isn't as effective as that of a human. So while cats do sweat through their paws, it's not their primary method of cooling down.
Do cats sweat like humans?
Cats do not rely on sweat to keep them cool to the degree that humans do. Cats have far fewer sweat glands than humans, and they only have them on a few specific points on their bodies (namely, their feet). In contrast, humans have sweat glands across the entire surface of our skin.
How to keep your cat cool in the summer
Luckily, keeping your cat cool is a relatively easy task. Here are some tips:
Water: Make sure your cat always has access to lots of fresh, cool water. You can also add a couple of ice cubes to keep the water cool throughout the day.
Shade: Keep your house as cool as possible by keeping curtains and blinds closed in hot weather.
Air: Get a small fan to place by your cat's bed or other areas they frequent.
Playtime: Wait until the end of the day, when it's cooler, to engage in active playtime with your cat.
Grooming: if you have a long-haired cat, make sure to brush them frequently to keep their coat from getting matted, which can make them hotter.
How to keep your cat cool in the car
First and foremost, never leave a cat in the car without you, not even to run into the drugstore for a minute. The temperature in your car can reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, and it's easy for a cat to overheat in those conditions.
When you're traveling with your cat in the car, here's how to keep them cool:
Air conditioning: before your trip, get your AC checked out to make sure it's in good working order. On the day of the trip, turn on your car and the AC a few minutes before putting the cat inside, so the car has a chance to cool off.
Ventilation: Make sure the cat has a travel carrier that's well-ventilated.
Hydration (beforehand): If you're heading on a longer trip, try to get your cat as hydrated as possible before the car ride. You can't force your cat to drink, of course, but try to encourage them to drink by placing ice cubes in their water bowl, or sparking their interest with a cat water fountain or other running water.
Hydration (during the ride): Get at a pet crate water nozzle, a handy water bottle that attaches to your pet's carrier, to ensure that your cat has access to water throughout the duration of the trip. (Again, this only applies if you're going on a relatively long car ride.)
How to tell if your cat is overheated
Cats should have a rectal temperature of 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you own a rectal thermometer (a handy tool to have around), you can, obviously, take your cat's temperature this way. If you don't have a rectal thermometer or are not confident in your cat rectum-handling skills, there are other ways to check your cat's temperature.
Checking your cat's temperature is an ideal way to figure out their internal temperature. In addition, here are the physical signs to look for:
If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet so they can help get your cat back to normal.
You usually won't notice your cat sweating, but keep an eye on them this summer for other signs of overheating. Keep cool out there!
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.