Humans have millions of sweat glands in their skin. These glands are concentrated in specific areas, such as the soles of the feet and armpits, and antiperspirants and deodorants are often applied to help manage the moisture and smell that is created. Cats, on the other hand, do not have sweat glands covering their body so it's often asked whether or not cats sweat. This bodily function may be a little different in cats than it is in humans but cats definitely do sweat.
How Do Cats Sweat?
Cats primarily sweat from the pads of their feet and from their noses where there are eccrine sweat glands. While there are technically sweat glands in the skin of a cat, these are different types of sweat glands called apocrine sweat glands. Apocrine sweat glands randomly secrete an oily substance in a cat that works like a pheromone.
The paw pads are where you may see sweat coming from your cat as they are walking across a hard floor or table. Damp footprints may be evidence of your cat sweating and may especially appear during warmer months and if your cat is stressed.
Why Do Cats Sweat?
Sweating occurs in an attempt to keep your cat's body temperature normal or because your cat is stressed. Just like humans in the summertime, if a cat becomes too warm it will begin to sweat. When the sweat begins to evaporate, it provides a cooling sensation to the paw pads which may help lower the body temperature. But because the paw pads of cats do not take up a lot of surface area, it only provides a small amount of cooling power so cats use other means to cool off.
Cats may also sweat when they are stressed. This is often seen while your cat is at the veterinarian, traveling, or at home in a stressful situation if they jump onto a counter or table and leave damp paw prints behind.
Why Do Cats Pant?
Unlike dogs, cats do not pant unless they are very stressed, cannot breathe, or are extremely overheated. Panting is not an efficient way for a cat to cool its body off though, so if your cat is panting it may need immediate help with regulating its temperature, calming down, or breathing. Panting allows hot air from the chest to escape through the mouth but just like sweating, it is not an efficient means of cooling off a cat. A panting cat usually needs immediate veterinary attention and should not be ignored.
What is a Normal Cat Temperature?
Cats have a normal body temperature between about 100 degrees and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Sweating of the paw pads and potentially even panting may occur if a cat's body temperature gets over 102.5 degrees so these are important things to look for since it's no easy task to check your cat's temperature with a thermometer.
How to Cool Your Cat Down
Since panting and sweating through the paw pads are not efficient methods to cool down, cats will often lick themselves to allow moisture to evaporate off their bodies. You may see this happen more often in warmer months when a cat may naturally be battling summer heat. This can provide a cooling effect and subsequently lower their body temperatures. But if you want to help your cat cool down there are also things you can do. Fans can be directed onto your cat to provide a cool breeze but you can also give your cat cold water to drink, place your cat in the shade, air conditioning, or on a cool surface like a tile floor, and as long as your cat doesn't hate water, give it a rinse of cool water or a large bowl to play in or with. Encouraging more play time at night rather than in the heat of the day can also help keep your cat cooler. Finally, if your cat has long hair, consider having it shaved if the summer heat is too much for it to bear.
If you think your cat is overheating, do not waste any time in attempting to cool it down while transporting it to your veterinarian. Seizures, permanent brain and organ damage, and even death can occur in cats if their body temperature gets too high for too long of a period of time.