If the heat and humidity of those long summer months send you running for the nearest air conditioner, imagine having a permanent full-body fur coat. Cats can suffer from the heat just like any other warm-blooded mammal, but they use different methods to keep cool and safe as temperatures climb.
On those hot summer days, the kind that make you feel like you need to wring out your shirt after just a few moments outside, your cat simply looks at you with bored indifference. It's not that he doesn't feel the heat, he just has different ways to deal with it. Cats don't worry about embarrassing sweat-caused wetness because the only place they sweat from is their paws. You may notice little wet kitty prints on your kitchen floor in the summer, as a cat's paw has the most sweat glands found anywhere in his body.
Fresh and Clean
Next to sleeping, it would seem as though a cat grooms for a good portion of the time he's awake. Which is true. But in the summertime, this constant lick, lick, licking serves a purpose other than keeping clean. As the cat's saliva evaporates, it carries away some of the animal's body heat with it. This works in much the same way our sweat helps cool our skin through evaporation. So even though he may look as though he's just casually grooming himself as you melt in the heat, he's doing his best to keep cool, too.
As if cats needed an additional reason to be lazy. You'll most likely find your cat lying in a cool, shady spot during the heat of the summer, such as on tile floors or in shady grass. And that's all he'll do -- just lie there. Remaining still uses less energy, and creates less heat, than moving unnecessarily. This helps keep him cooler and more comfortable.
Dangers of Overheating
As temperatures climb and the humidity becomes suffocating, staying cool becomes more than a question of comfort -- it becomes a necessity. A cat's normal body temperature hovers around the hundred-degree mark, and serious heat-related issues such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur should it rise too high. Cat's generally don't pant to cool off, but will if they begin to succumb to high temperatures. If you see your cat panting, or his body temperature reaches 105 degrees or higher, he is overheated and must see a veterinarian quickly. Use cool -- not ice-cold -- wet towels to try and bring his temperature down as you head to the veterinarian.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.