Does your cat have a fever?
If your cat is generally lethargic and has no appetite, it might have a fever. If your cats ears feel hot to the touch it might have a cat fever. Most people think that a cold, wet nose is a sign of a healthy cat, and that a warm, dry nose is a sign of a fever in a cat. This is NOT ALWAYS TRUE! It’s possible for environmental temperature and the cats hydration to affect how cold and wet their nose is. The only reliable way to determine if your cat has fever is by taking their temperature.
How to take a cat’s temperature.
Ear thermometers designed for humans are not a reliable method for taking your cat’s temperature. Their calibration is not set up for cats and the cat’s ear canals are shaped differently than a human’s ear canal. There are ear thermometers designed for cats, but they cost several hundred dollars.
The easiest and best way to take your cats temperature is to use a pediatric rectal glass or digital thermometer. These are cheap and readily available.
If it’s not obvious, you will need two people to take your cat’s temperature. The first person will carefully and securely hold the the cat, while the other inserts the thermometer. Please be careful during this procedure. Do not let the cat make any sudden movements. Wrapping them in a towel might help to stabilize them.
The thermometer should be lubricated with petroleum jelly or water soluble lubricants such as K-Y Jelly. Carefully insert the thermometer into the rectum. Normal thermometers should be left in there for two minutes. Digital thermometers should be left in until they beep.
The normal range for a cat’s temprature is 100.5Â°-102.5Â°F (37.9Â°-39.2Â°C). A high temperature in a cat is above 102.5. You should be concerned if the temperature is 106.5 or above. Take your cat to a veterinarian immediately if you see a fever this high.
On hot days or if a cat is stressed, it’s body temperature may reach 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Veterinarians are concerned when temperatures reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If your cat does have a cat fever of 104 or above, you should bring it to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Fever in cats can be normal and even a beneficial response to infection. The high temperature stops the growth of certain bacteria and can improve the effectiveness of the cat’s immune system. However, high fever above 105Â°-106Â°F (40.5Â°-41.1Â°C) for more than a day or two can lead to dehydration, loss of appetite, listlessness, and even brain damage in cats. It’s possible that they might have seizures if the temperature is extremely elevated.
It’s possible that a cat can have a fever “of unknown origin” or FUO, where no cause, such as infection, can be found. Cats with an FUO are generally ill for several weeks. They usually have a fever higher than 103.5Â°F (39.7Â°C) at least four times during a 2-week period. These cats will be lethargic and lose their appetite. They may have an increased heart rate or an increased breathing rate. It’s common for them to become dehydrated.
Never give any medication without specific instructions from your veterinarian. Do not give any human fever-reducing medications to your cats. NEVER use Aspirin or acetaminophen, (e.g., TylenolÂ®) on a cat. Both human medicines are especially toxic to cats. They will kill your cat.
Cats do not have “elucuronyl transferas”, which is a liver enzyme. It’s needed to break down compounds in the body. Without that enzyme, the cat’s liver can’t convert acetaminophen to non-toxic byproducts.
Most cats with fevers will respond well to basic supportive care. Keep your cat warm and dry. Make sure they are fed a good diet with constant access to fresh water. Viral infections can come and go before they fully recover, so your cat may seem to be completely OK and then have a relapse a week or so later.
Most veterinarians do not try to lower the cat’s temperature with a fever medication. Instead, they try to identify the cause of the cat’s fever and specifically treat that cause instead of treating the fever, which is just a symptom.
For mild fevers, less than 104.5F, watching your cat at home may be all that it takes for them to recover from the fever. Make sure your cat continues to eat and drink. You can take your cat’s temperature one to two times a day. If it gets above 104.5F, you should promptly contact your veterinarian.
You can examine your cat for anything that might indicate infection, such as abscesses, blood in urine, skin lumps, straining to urinate, sneezing or breathing difficulty. Anything that looks serious should prompt an examination and treatment by your veterinarian.
We hope that was helpful for you and your cat.
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