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Do cats have sweat glands?

Wow! Just in time for Independence Day, we got slammed with a heat wave in New York City. You probably already have the air conditioner running for you and your feline friend, but have you ever wondered how cats keep cool on their own?

Where are a cat’s sweat glands?

Believe it or not, cats do sweat. Unlike humans, whose sweat glands are located all over their bodies, cats can only sweat from their paw pads. This is due to the thick layer of fur that covers everywhere but their toe beans. If your cat is sweating, you may see wet paw prints as he or she walks across the floor.

Other means of cooling down

The primary function of sweating is to cool the body down by allowing water to evaporate, thus taking the heat with it. Even though cats don’t have sweat glands beneath their fur, they are able to achieve the same effect by licking their fur instead. The thin coat of saliva then wicks the heat away from your kitty as it dries.

Being the descendants of desert-dwelling wildcats, domestic cats make every effort to conserve moisture. You’re more likely to see your cat stretch out in a dark or cool place, which offers a cooling sensation without dehydrating your kitty. Cats that are extremely heat stressed may pant, but this is not a common occurrence.

Overheating and heat stroke

If your cat is panting, you should assume that he or she is overheated. Sometimes, during bouts of stress or strenuous play, a cat may pant with his or her mouth open. If the panting continues for more than a few moments, you should take action to help your cat cool down. Overheating can lead to heat stroke, which is potentially fatal.

In addition to your kitty’s natural defenses, the best way to help your cat stay cool this summer is to make sure your home is climate controlled. Do not shave your cat, because you will actually make him or her hotter.

When you’re going out of town during the hot summer, consider having someone come regularly to check on your kitty, such as one of our experienced pet sitters.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

Photo by Counselling on Pixabay.

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