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Fever in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Care

Fever in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Care

A fever in cats often indicates an underlying issue. Here, our Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Huntersville explain the causes and symptoms of fevers in cats and what you need to know to care for your cat.

How can I tell if my cat has a fever and how do I take its temperature? 

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.  

What causes a 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 several infectious diseases associated with fever in cats, including haemobartonellosis, ehrlichoisis, bartonellosis and toxoplasmosis. Cats that are free to roam outdoors are at highest risk for exposure to infectious diseases.  

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). 

What are the symptoms of a fever in cats?

Watch your cat carefully for signs and symptoms of a fever. 

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Shivering 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Decreased drinking
  • Dehydration 
  • Decreased activity or grooming
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea 

How do I care for a cat with a fever?  

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 require 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.

What is the recovery time for a fever in cats? 

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 people or pets. Always follow your doctors advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Does your cat have a fever? Our Huntersville emergency veterinarians are specially trained in emergency medicine and triage. Any time that you are unable to reach your primary care veterinarian – evenings, weekends, holidays – we are here to help. Contact us today.

Caring for Pets in Huntersville

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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704-949-1100