Do cats sweat?
Although I write this in the cooler months of Autumn, as residents of this dry, brown country – we all remember those long, sizzling months of Summer. When humans slow down in the heat of the day, so do our cats. If we don’t have the luxury of air-conditioning nearby, we will of course sweat … profusely! But do our feline friends ‘perspire’ in the same way ? A lot of carers seem to have very different ways of keeping their furry-babies cool. But what signs do we look out for ? This comes up in discussions a lot between November and March, as we travel around Melbourne photographing cats in their natural surroundings.
No doubt about it though … they cope a lot better than we do! Domestic felines all share ancestors from hot-dry savannah lands of the northern hemisphere, or the steaming jungles in the tropics. A lot of heat in a cat can be ‘felt’ simply by lightly touching their ears, even on a winters day. These ears are adapted to be very thin, and very vascular. As with many other mammals, this means that heat in the bloodstream can be dissipated very quickly.
Another technique that they have inherited is to turn their fur into a mobile air-conditioning unit, simply by licking themselves all over, many times a day. Obviously this requires us to provide extra sources of water in the warmer months, particularly upstairs in two-store homes or apartments, where the daytime heat can be difficult to shift well into the night. If our cat is allowed outside, then leaving extra water in plant-pot bases or other forms of low-sided bowls is very sensible. Saucers and plates tend to be useless outside, due to the high levels of evaporation. Any extra supplies outside can be a welcome compliment to the tasty delights of our neighbours ornamental lily-pond !
We of course have sweat glands located all over our body. However for felines – these organs are only found in their paws. If you find their paws are really getting damp and ‘smelly’, then this can be a serious sign that heat-stress is starting. In which case, please bring the cat into a cool shady area indoors, and gently rub them down with a damp towel. They may not indicate much pleasure at first, but it will bring that all important heart rate down, along with their core temperature. If they decide they want rest at this point, then that is exactly what they will need. Their paws should be quite a lot drier and cooler at this point. At this point, YOU can stop sweating ;o)
Here are some images of the ‘cooler’ cats we have recently had the pleasure of including in our recent Art Photography sessions here in Melbourne.
For some more useful tips on keeping your cat cool in Summer, this article is a good summary
Sweating – Cat Photography Melbourne