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Fever in Cats - Symptoms & Treatments

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Janet Johns
Fever in Cats - Symptoms & Treatments

Do you know the normal temperature of a cat or how to tell if your cat has a fever? Surprisingly most cat owners don’t. 

Like humans’ cats develop fevers when they get sick, unlike humans feeling a cat’s forehead to check if it is warm is not possible.

A cat’s normal body temperature ranges between 100.4º to 102.5º Fahrenheit, if the cats body temp rises above 102.5º the cat has fever. Fever in cats is said to fight disease however, a temperature above 106º can damage organs and professional help should be sought.

Below we outline the causes, symptoms and treatments of fever in cats.

Causes of Fever in Cats

A fever in cats is initiated by the presence of a pyrogen, this is a fever producing substance which can be endogenous (produced from within the body) or exogenous (produced outside the body). 

Pyrogen causes the release of substances from the body that reset the body’s ‘thermostat’, the temperature-regulating region located in the hypothalamus, elevating the cat body temperature.

Such an increase in body temperature is known as hyperthermia and can be caused in cats by a very warm environment or increased activity.

Fever in cats is a common symptom of many infections and diseases as outlined below:

  • Bacterial, fungal or viral infections
  • Various parasites
  • Tumours and cancers
  • Internal injury

While cats can also suffer with a ‘fever of unknown origin’(FUO), as the name suggests this is a fever without a demonstrable cause and can last up to two weeks.

For new-born and young kittens as their immune systems are only developing ‘kitten fever’ can be dangerous and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Symptoms of Cat Fever

There are several tell-tale behavioural signs when your cat has a fever, these behaviours help them survive illness, allowing cats to conserve the necessary energy to produce a fever.

These fevers help fight disease by energising the immune system and slow the growth of bacteria and viruses. Cat fever symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite and decreased drinking
  • Lethargic
  • Shivering and rapid pulse
  • Flushing or reddening of skin
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioural changes

Depending on the underlying cause fever in cats may also cause sneezing, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Cat Fever Treatment

Once your cat is showing signs of fever or his body temperature is above the normal temp for cats, you should seek the help of your local veterinarian.

Such visits and cat fever treatments can be covered by your cat insurance.

Until its cause has been determined little can be done to treat fever in cats, with lower temp fevers, the veterinarian may not event attempt to reduce it as such fevers aid the immune system when fighting infections.

The initial primary focus for a fever in cats and not eating is to maintain hydration and reduce the temperature, additional treatments will vary based on the underlying condition.

To enable the veterinarian to monitor and treat your cat hospitalisation may be required, companies like PetAssure review offer cover in such scenarios.

Common cat fever treatments include:

  • Intravenous fluids 
  • Fever reducing medications
  • Antibiotics or Corticosteroids
  • Surgery

5 Tips of Checking Cats Temperature

The only accurate way to check your cat’s body temperature is with a thermometer inserted into its rectum or ear.

A paediatric rectal thermometer is the most accurate method of taking a cat’s temperature and is available in glass or digital styles at all good drug stores or from your vet.

To note the procedure of checking a cat’s body temperature is not for the faint hearted and will require all decks on hand.

Here we outline 5 tips to make the task easier:

  1. Before you start, have all the supplies you need at the ready:
  • Thermometer
  • Lubricant 
  • Alcohol or paper towel to clean the thermometer
  • Cat treat for afterwards
  1. If you are using a glass thermometer shake it so the mercury line is below 96 degrees, or if using a digital thermometer turn it on. Next, coat the tip of the thermometer with lubricant.
  2. When checking a cat’s temperature, it is advisable to have a helper restrain your cat, stroking and cuddling the cat, while you gently insert the thermometer one inch to one and a half inches into the rectum.
  3. Once the thermometer beeps it can be removed, while a glass thermometer should remain in place for two minutes. When complete clean the thermometer with alcohol.
  4. You should be able to read your cat’s body temperature now. To note, a glass thermometer should be held up to the light and rotated when reading. 

In such situations it is important to have patience your cat’s fever will need time to cure dependent on cause.

However, given proper care and lots of love your cat will be happily purring again in no time.