If your cat is running a fever it may indicate an underlying health problem that requires urgent treatment. Today, our Greensboro vets explain some of the causes and symptoms of fevers in cats and what to do if your cat has a fever.
How To Take Your Cat's Temperature
Cats typically have a normal body temperature of 100.4º to 102.5º Fahrenheit. A fever is characterized by a temperature of more than 102.5º F in cats. If your kitty's temperature goes beyond 106º F your pet is at serious risk of damage to their vital organs.
Taking your cat's temperature fairly straight forward. Simply use a digital thermometer aimed at your cat’s ear, or use a pediatric rectal thermometer for a more accurate reading. Never use an older style mercury thermometer when taking your pet's temperature! If the thermometer breaks it can be very harmful to your kitty's health.
A pediatric rectal thermometer is the best way to accurately measure your pet's temperature and determine whether your cat has a fever. Apply petroleum jelly to the thermometer to lubricate it, then gently insert it. It's important not to go too far as it could damage your cat's delicate rectal tissue. You may need someone to help you calmly restrain your cat while you insert the thermometer. Leave the thermometer in place for at least two minutes in order to get a correct reading.
If you think that your cat may have a fever but feel uncomfortable taking their temperature, contact your vet right away to book an appointment. Your veterinarian will be able to assess your kitty's temperature and overall health quickly and accurately.
Causes of Fever in Cats
Fevers generally occur in cats when their immune system is activated by conditions such as:
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infection
- Certain medications
- A tumor
- Diseases such as lupus
Outdoor cats are at the highest risk for exposure to diseases that may cause fever, such as:
- Cytauxzoonosis - A tick-borne condition also more commonly known as bobcat fever in cats.
- Haemobartonellosis - A parasitic bacterial blood infection seen in cats.
- Ehrlichiosis - Also a tick-borne condition that can affect cats.
- Bartonellosis - More commonly known as cat scratch fever.
- Toxoplasmosis - A parasitic condition known to cause fever in cats.
Signs That Your Cat May Have a Fever
Depending on the underlying cause, your cat may display one or more of the following symptoms if they are suffering from a fever:
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness or lethargy
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased activity
- Decreased drinking
- Poor grooming
What To Do If Your Cat Has a Fever
Never give your cat human medications without the explicit advice of a veterinarian! Many human medications, such as acetaminophen, can be extremely toxic to cats.
Make sure your kitty stays hydrated by ensuring that they have easy access to fresh clean water and make sure they have a comfortable place to relax.
If your cat's fever lasts longer than 24 hours or goes above 106º F contact your vet to book an urgent appointment or visit your local emergency animal hospital.
Your vet will do a full examination of your cat to determine the cause of your pet's fever, and prescribe the best treatment to help restore your cat's good health. In some cases, even after an extensive veterinary examination, the cause may not be evident and your cat could be diagnosed with a fever of unknown origin (FUO). If your cat has moderate or severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be used to help your cat feel better and fight off illness.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.