If your cat has a fever it's likely a sign of an underlying illness. In today's blog, our Orange County vets explain the causes and symptoms of fevers in cats and what you need to know to care for your sick kitty.
Does Your Cat Have a Fever? Here's How to Tell
A normal temperature in cats ranges from 100.4º to 102.5º Fahrenheit, a fever occurs when a cats temperatures rise above 102.5º F. A fever higher than 106º F can cause serious damage to your cat’s organs.
To check your cat’s temperature you can use a digital thermometer in your cat’s ear, or a pediatric rectal glass thermometer.
A rectal thermometer is the best way to determine if your cat has a fever. To get the most accurate result, leave the thermometer in for at least two minutes. Use petroleum jelly to lubricate the thermometer and do not stick it in too far to avoid damage to the rectal tissue. You will need the assistance of another person to restrain your cat while you insert the thermometer. Do not use a mercury thermometer on your cat, if the thermometer breaks it can be very harmful for your cat's health.
If you are uncomfortable taking your cat's temperature, contact your veterinarian to book an appointment and have her temperature taken by a professional. Your vet can take proactive measures to determine the cause of your cats' temperature.
Causes of Fever in Cats
A fever usually results when the immune system is activated by conditions such as:
- A bacterial, viral, or fungal infection
- Injury from trauma
- Certain medications
- A tumor
- Diseases such as lupus
There are also a number of highly contagious infectious diseases associated with fever in cats, including haemobartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, bartonellosis and toxoplasmosis. Outdoor cats face the highest risk for exposure to these infectious diseases. If you have a cat that is allowed to roam freely outdoors be sure to keep their vaccinations up-to-date in order to help protect their health.
In some cases, even after an extensive medical investigation, the cause cannot be identified and your cat could be diagnosed with fever of unknown origin (FUO).
Signs That Your Cat May Have a Fever
Cats have a natural instinct to hide when they don't feel well, so spotting the signs of fever in cats can be challenging. It's important to note fever in cats often leads to not eating which can be one of the first signs many pet parents spot. Watch your cat carefully for the following symptoms fever.
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness or lethargy
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased drinking
- Decreased activity or grooming
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
Caring For Your Sick Kitty
Maintaining hydration and temperature reduction will be the primary focus when treating a cat with fever.
Never give your cat medication without the advice of your veterinarian. Medications that would be prescribed to a human with fever, such as acetaminophen, can be toxic to cats.
If your cat has a fever for more than 24 hours or a fever above 106º F requires immediate veterinary care. The vet may conduct tests to determine the cause of the fever and take steps to treat the underlying problem. If your cat has moderate or severe dehydration an intravenous may be administered.
How Long It Takes For Cats To Recover From Fever
Recovery will depend on the underlying cause of the fever. If your cat has a minor infection or illness the fever can be reduced with treatment and the symptoms can resolve. If the underlying condition more serious, recovery could take time and require various treatments.
Follow the treatment instructions provided by your veterinarian and finish the full course of medications, even if the symptoms have improved.
Your cat will need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated so ensure that your cat has easy access to fresh water. You may need to modify your cat’s diet by providing nutritious food or possibly high-calorie liquids to support your pet's recovery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.