Cats have sweat glands only on their feet. When cats are hot, or when they become nervous or anxious, their footpads will sweat. They can leave little sticky wet footprints where they are walking. There is not usually much odor to their sweat unless they develop a secondary infection between the toes.
If cats get hot, they also lick their fur. Evaporation of the saliva then helps cool them off. In addition, you will see the blood vessels in their ears dilate which helps them lose heat through the ear pinnas (flaps). An overheated or anxious cat may pant as well, but this is a little less common. Cats also will move around less to reduce heat generation.
Cats can become dangerously overheated and can die when they are exposed to hot temperatures without shelter, or when they are left in cars even in nice weather. NEVER leave your cat in the car even for a short time. Cracking the windows is not enough to keep them from overheating.
If your cat seems to be overheated, try a cool (not icy cold) water bath or shower to help bring their temperature down and call your veterinarian immediately.
Cats with short flat noses such as Persians, Himalayans and Exotic Shorthairs can have difficulty breathing if they get overheated, excited, or develop a respiratory infection or allergy. These cats (and similar type dogs such as English Bulldogs and Pekinese and Pugs) are prone to respiratory distress even with mild heat or humidity being present.
- Dr. Sadek