The normal body temperature for a cat is between 100.4 degrees and 102.5 degrees. Anything higher is considered a fever that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian. The most accurate way to check your cat's temp is to use a digital rectal pediatric thermometer. Fevers that exceed 106 degrees can lead to organ damage or even death; immediate medical attention is required.
Your cat's temperature can rise through extreme exertion or by being subjected to excessively warm temperatures. These types of temperature increases are usually temporary and stabilize when your cat reduces her physical activity or moves into a cooler environment. Like other animals, cats can suffer heatstroke, so ensure your pets have access to shaded resting spots and have plenty of fresh water in warm conditions. If your cat exhibits signs of heatstroke, soak her in cool water, place a bag of ice between her legs and get her to a vet as soon as possible.
Prevalent causes of fever in cats include infection, injury, tumors or diseases such as lupus. Fever also can be triggered by medications, endocrine or metabolic conditions or immune disorders. In addition to checking your cat's temperature, other indications of fever may include lethargy, decreased food and water consumption, an unkempt appearance and labored or rapid breathing. Fever lasting more than 24 hours should be referred to a vet.
Medical Diagnostic Tools
Your vet will conduct different tests to determine the cause of your cat's fever. These may include urine and blood tests, ultrasounds, X-rays or MRIs. You'll also be asked to provide a detailed medical history. Let your vet know about recent injuries or illnesses, vaccinations, medications or supplements or changes in physical behaviors. Some fevers have no known medical cause, in which case your vet may recommend home observation and monitored hydration.
Infections are usually treated with antibiotics. If your cat is dehydrated, intravenous fluid may be necessary. If your cat has a disease presenting with fever, your vet will explain the particulars and recommend treatment options. Once cleared to go home, your vet likely will have you track your cat's food and water consumption, monitor her fever and possibly administer prescription fever-reducing medications. Never give your cat any medicine not recommended by your vet, especially acetaminophen, which can be deadly.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.