If your cat has a fever it may indicate an underlying health problem that requires urgent treatment. Today, our Kennesaw vets explain some of the causes and symptoms of fevers in cats and what to do if your cat has a fever.
Fever In Cats
As with people, cats will often develop a fever if their immune system is fighting off an infection or disease. The normal body temperature for cats is around 100.4º to 102.5º Fahrenheit. A fever is characterized by a temperature of over 102.5º F in cats.
If your feline friend shows any of the signs of fever below it is essential to seek veterinary care. Cats that develop a fever higher than 106º F are at serious risk of damage to their vital organs.
Signs of Fever in Cats
Depending on the underlying cause, if your cat has a fever you may notice the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness or lethargy
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased activity
- Decreased drinking
- Poor grooming
How To Take Your Cat's Temperature
Taking your cat's temperature can be fairly straightforward. Use a digital thermometer aimed at your cat’s ear, or use a pediatric rectal thermometer for a more accurate reading. Never use an older-style mercury thermometer when taking your pet's temperature! If there is damage to the instrument, the contents and glass can be very harmful to your kitty's health.
The best way to accurately measure your pet's temperature and determine whether your cat has a fever is to use a pediatric rectal thermometer. Apply petroleum jelly to the thermometer to lubricate it, then gently insert it. It's important not to go too far as it could damage your cat's delicate rectal tissue. You may need someone to help you calmly restrain your cat while you insert the thermometer. Leave the thermometer in place for at least two minutes to get a correct reading.
If you think that your cat may have a fever but you don't feel comfortable taking its temperature, contact your veterinarian right away to book an appointment. Your vet will be able to quickly assess your kitty's temperature and overall state of health.
Causes of Fever in Cats
Fevers generally occur in cats when their immune system is activated by conditions such as:
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Fungal infection
- Internal injury
- Autoimmune disease
- Certain medications
- A tumor
- Immune-mediated inflammatory disease
- Metabolic disorders
- Endocrine disorders
Conditions that Can Cause Fever in Cats
Outdoor cats are at a significantly higher risk for exposure to diseases than indoor cats. Several serious conditions can cause fever in cats, including:
Bobcat Fever in Cats (Cytauxzoonosis)Bobcat fever is an acute, sometimes fatal disease in cats caused by the bite of a tick infected with the Cytauxzoon Felis parasite. This condition often strikes healthy, young adult cats that spend time outdoors.
Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)Valley fever in cats is caused by them inhaling the soil fungus Coccidioides immitis, found in desert regions of the Southwestern United States. Symptoms of valley fever in cats include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, and coughing, but advanced cases can also cause severe joint and back pain, seizures, and blindness.
HaemobartonellosisHaemobartonellosis is an antibiotic-resistant bacterial blood infection seen in cats. This condition often leads to urinary tract infections and pneumonia, which can be quite difficult to treat.
EhrlichiosisEhrlichiosis is a tick-borne condition that can lead to fever in cats. The signs of Ehrlichiosis in cats include fever, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, decreased appetite, abnormal bruising or bleeding, and eye inflammation.
Milk Fever (Eclampsia)Eclampsia typically develops in cats approximately 4 weeks after giving birth to kittens. Early signs of this disease include stiff walking, restlessness, and excessive panting.
Cat Scratch Fever (Bartonellosis)This condition can be transmitted between animals and from animals to humans. In cats, the disease is typically spread through contact with contaminated flea waste. Symptoms of cat scratch fever in cats include fever, swollen glands, lethargy, decreased appetite, and in some cases reproductive difficulties.
As one of the most common parasitic diseases, Toxoplasmosis in cats can lead to symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, cough, difficulty breathing, jaundice, seizures, and in severe cases threaten the life of the animal.
What To Do If Your Cat Has a Fever
Remember, NEVER give your cat human medications without the explicit advice of a veterinarian! Many human medications (e.g. acetaminophen) can be extremely toxic to cats.
Make sure your cat stays hydrated by making sure they have easy access to fresh clean water and make sure they have a comfortable place to relax.
If your cat has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours or is above 106º F, get in touch with your veterinarian to book an urgent appointment or visit your local emergency animal hospital right away.
Your vet will do a full examination of your cat to determine the cause of your pet's fever, and prescribe the best treatment to help restore your cat's good health. In some cases, even after an extensive veterinary examination, the cause may not be evident and your cat could be diagnosed with a fever of unknown origin (FUO). If your cat has moderate or severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be used to help your cat feel better and fight off illness.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.