How do I know if my cat is running a fever?

One of the general symptoms cats have when they're ill is a fever. It can be a general sign of an upper respiratory infection in the cat, which is a general description for a number of viral illnesses that all affect the same part of the cat (they're similar to colds, but can be more dangerous).

   

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What is the normal temperature for a cat?

Unlike people, for whom 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the proper temperature, cats have a range. Their temperature naturally fluctuates from 100.5 degrees to about 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The cat's body will try to keep it in that range. One exception: Rex cats. The Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex can have slightly higher temperatures than normal cats - usually about a degree.

What is the temperature when a cat is running a fever?

Cats have fevers when they are above 102.5 degrees, but they can go a little higher than people can temperature-wise as they are starting out several degrees higher. 104 degrees is the level where you should start being concerned and consider taking your cat to the vet. Cats can get body temperatures of 103 to 103.5 on hot days under normal conditions, but 104 is a pretty good indicator they are sick. If it is at 106 or higher you should go to the vet immediately.

How do I take a cat's temperature?

Standard thermometers don't work in the cat's ear, and you'd have to get a specially designed one, but they can be expensive. The cheapest one I've found is still around $40:

This is probably the easiest to use, because trust me, the cat isn't going to like the alternative way to check its temperature. You can get it online here.

Most people probably won't want to do that unless they've got the money, have multiple pets, or have a pet that is frequently sick and needs to be monitored closely.

If you just need to check the cat's temperature a couple of times, you can do it the hard way. That's through using a standard thermometer in the cat's rectum (the rear end). You'll want to put a little bit of petroleum jelly on there as a lubricant if you've got it, because it will make it much less uncomfortable for the cat. You may need another person to help you by holding the cat down. Insert the tip of the thermometer and leave it in for two minutes or, if it's a digital thermometer, until it beeps.

What should I do to get a cat's fever down?

If the cat has a fever, first and foremost you need to know that you should NOT use aspirin for cats, or any of the other medicines people usually use. They can cause toxic reactions if used improperly because cats are not as able to handle the byproducts of these medicines as people are. Your vet may instruct you to use aspirin, but only do it under their direction. Other medicines such as Tylenol are too dangerous to be used at all in cats.

You should take the cat to a vet, because the best methods to reduce a fever involve IV fluids and things you can't do on your own. The vet will also need to diagnose the problem - if you don't get rid of the cause, the fever isn't going away either. The one suggestion that you can try is to wet down the tail and the pads of the feet. You can also keep a cat in a room that is cooled down - a lower external temperature will help a little bit.

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