How do cats cool down? 6 ways.

I'm going to refer to domestic cats mainly. I can think of 6 ways which help a cat to cool down. Cats do sweat but in a much more limited way than humans. They sweat from their paw pads and the latent heat of evaporation cools down their paw pads. You will see the sweaty pawprints of a cat in a veterinarian's consultation room on the table. This is because as they are nervous and agitated, they over heat and they sweat.

Licking helps to cool a cat as well as clean them
Licking helps to cool a cat as well as clean them. Photo: PDSA.

Another way is licking their coat. The saliva deposited on the coat evaporates and once again through the physical properties of the latent heat of evaporation, it's cools the cat down slightly. This is a substitute for sweating.

A third way is panting like a dog. I'm sure that you have seen this before. My female cat used to plant in the car in her cage when I took her to the veterinarian. She became agitated and overheated and so instinctively she panted to cool down. Panting as a cooling process works in the same way as sweating.

A fourth way is to find some shade! If a cat is lying in the sun, and they do like to lie in the sun as we know, after a while they will remove themselves from that hot spot and find some shade and a patch of cool ground to lie on to cool down.

In fact, using shade is the most natural and obvious way for a cat to cool down. You see the big cats like lions and tigers resting in shade, particular the lions because they live in quite open territory which is sunbaked and quite arid. They find a tree to rest and snooze under. Whereas tigers live in landscapes that are far lusher and more covered with vegetation and trees.

If a tiger wants to cool down, they jump into the water. Tigers love water and they often spend a long time in it because they live in parts of the world, Asia, where there are high temperatures. Jaguars also spend quite a lot of time in cool water. Domestic cats don't usually jump into water to cool down. Some individual cats might though such as an F1 Savannah cat.

Some lions rest on the branches of trees. This takes them off the ground where there are less flies and also where it is cooler. There might be more of a breeze 10 or 15 feet above the ground as well. This may help them keep cool.

I have just thought of a sixth way: drinking cool water from a faucet. Some domestic cats are particularly fond of this. It quenches the thirst and cools the insides a little bit.

The physics of the way sweat cools the body is quite technical. The latent heat of vaporization (evaporation) is the heat consumed or discharged when matter disintegrates, changing from fluid to gas.

Here is a video on the topic:


Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

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