Categories: cooling

Do Sphynx cats sweat?

The question is asking if Sphynx cats sweat all over their body like humans. ‘Normal cats’ – those with fur – don’t sweat all over their body which is why, in my opinion, Sphynx cats don’t either. But to be more precise, I am referring to eccrine sweat glands producing perspiration. All domestic cats also have apocrine sweat glands all over their body which produce a fluid associated with sexual attraction.

Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Sphynx cats sweat perspiration in exactly the same way as other domestic cats, which is not through their skin which is covered in fur but through their paw pads. This is why cats pant sometimes when they hot. You’ll see damp paw spots on the veterinarian’s consulting table because the cats are nervous and sweating. Cats also cool themselves by licking their fur which deposits saliva which evaporates like perspiration to help with cooling.

Back to the Sphynx. One veterinary website (the one that Google picks out as providing the best answer) says that Sphynx cats do sweat all over. This is incorrect in my opinion. What they have got wrong is that the oil deposited on this hairless cat’s skin is sebum which is delivered from sebaceous glands in the skin and which is to protect the coat, which as it happens, does not exist.

But sebum is not sweat. It is an oil which can smell rancid if not washed off regularly. It is the price paid both by the cat and the owner for the interesting appearance due to a genetic mutation. Normally these mutated cats would not survive and they’d fade away but breeders cottoned on to a good thing and bred them.

The only difference between a hairless cat and a cat with hair is just that. Everything else is identical although there are variations in character and breeders tend to breed for a certain character. The Sphynx is said to be monkey-like and intelligent. I remember seeing one in a British cat show and I agree with this description.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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