Do cats sweat or breathe often in the heat? To cool the body, you sweat, and your dog is breathing rapidly. But does your cat sweat? And does rapid breathing contribute to a decrease in body temperature? And what should she do to cool off?
Do cats sweat?
Cats, known for their most cold-blooded behavior, really sweat. You probably just don’t notice it.
Cats have sweat glands, but most of them are covered with fur. This means that their effect is minimal, but the cat’s paws are an exception in this case. Cat paws have sweat glands, and you can see this when you see that your pet leaves wet footprints on the floor, Cat Health explains.
Since the cat’s sweat glands are not as effective, cats use other cooling mechanisms. They wash themselves, because saliva cools them during evaporation — it’s like taking a warm bath on a hot day. Pets also like to relax in a cool place. It is easier for them to tolerate the heat by stretching out on a cool surface — for example, on a tiled floor or in an empty bathtub — this provides them with the necessary comfort. Many animals also shed their undercoat in the heat. If your cat is shedding more than usual, you can help her with regular combing. This activity will provide you with two advantages at once: firstly, taking care of your cat is an exciting activity, and secondly, you will reduce the amount of cat hair lying around the house.
Although cats have all the mechanisms for cooling, this does not mean that they cannot overheat. The normal body temperature of the animal is about 38.3 °C. When it reaches 40 °C, there is a possibility of heat stroke.
However, this does not happen often with cats. After all, as Dr. Jason Nicholas notes in Preventive Vet, they are rarely driven in cars and taken outside for long intense games or exercises with their owners (these are common scenarios of dogs overheating). However, he writes, cases of a cat getting heat stroke still took place. Dr. Nicholas highlights, among other things, the following scenarios that create the possibility for a pet to receive heat stroke:
- The cat was trapped in a clothes dryer.
- The cat was locked in a barn or other place without air supply in the heat.
- The cat was left locked up without access to water and shade.
- The cat was left in the car for a long time on a hot day.
How to understand that the cat is overheated?
One of the signs of overheating of the cat is rapid heavy breathing. Of course, cats don’t do this as often as dogs, for whom rapid breathing is an everyday phenomenon. As a rule, they breathe heavily in case of overheating, stress, respiratory distress or some secondary diseases and biochemical changes. Like a dog, rapid breathing allows a cat to release heat from the body through evaporation.
Dr. Jane Brant, a veterinarian from the hospital for cats in Towson, Baltimore County, in an interview with Catster called the following signs of overheating of the cat:
- Increased salivation.
- Bright red gums, tongue or mouth.
- Shaky gait or disorientation.
If you notice that your cat is breathing heavily with its mouth open, and are concerned that it could overheat or get heat stroke, you should immediately take measures to cool it down. Take her away from the sun and, if possible, move her to a cooler place. Make sure she has cool water to drink by adding one or two ice cubes to the bowl. You can also wet her fur with a damp cold cloth or wrap a frozen water bottle in a towel and put it next to the place where she is resting.
If you live in a hot climate and your pet for some reason cannot escape the heat in the house (for example, your air conditioner broke down), you can think of a backup plan so that she does not overheat when you are not at home and you cannot take care of her. For example, take her to friends or relatives, or to a kennel at a veterinary clinic. Although cats, as a rule, do not like a change of scenery, it is better to have a dissatisfied pet than a sick one.
If you are concerned that the animal may have overheated, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Tell the clinic staff why you think the cat overheated when you noticed the symptoms and what you did to cool it down. They will tell you what further actions should be taken and whether it is necessary to take her to the clinic for treatment.
Do cats sweat or breathe often in the heat?