If the cable overheated, there could be a fire. The fuse prevents that happening, because its thin wire will melt and break the circuit long before the cable itself can heat up and burn. Some cars have only two fuses. One rated at about 30-50 amps protects components wired through the ignition switch — flashers, wipers, heater-motor and instruments.
Thin wires conduct less easily than thick ones, because there is less room for the electrons to travel through. The energy needed to push current through a resistance is transformed into heat. This can be useful, for example in the very thin filament of a light bulb, which glows white hot.