How to Tell If Your Cat Has a Fever


As a responsible cat owner, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of illness in your feline friend. One common symptom of illness in cats is a fever. Just like humans, cats can develop a fever as a result of an infection or underlying health condition. In this article, we will explore the various ways to determine if your cat has a fever and what steps you can take to help them recover.

What is a Fever in Cats?

A fever, also known as pyrexia, is an elevated body temperature above the normal range. For cats, a normal body temperature ranges between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38°C to 39.2°C). When a cat’s body temperature exceeds this range, it indicates the presence of a fever.

Signs and Symptoms of Fever in Cats

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a fever in your cat is crucial in order to provide them with the necessary care and treatment. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Lethargy and decreased activity levels
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shivering or trembling
  • Warm ears and paws
  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Changes in behavior or mood

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it is important to monitor their temperature and seek veterinary advice if necessary.

How to Take Your Cat’s Temperature

Measuring your cat’s temperature is the most accurate way to determine if they have a fever. However, it can be a challenging task, especially if your cat is not used to being handled or becomes anxious during the process. Here are some steps to help you take your cat’s temperature:

  1. Gather the necessary supplies: a digital thermometer specifically designed for pets, water-based lubricant, and alcohol wipes.
  2. Restrain your cat gently but firmly to prevent them from moving around too much.
  3. Apply a small amount of lubricant to the thermometer tip to make it more comfortable for your cat.
  4. Lift your cat’s tail and gently insert the thermometer into their rectum, about 1 inch deep.
  5. Hold the thermometer in place for about 1 minute or until it beeps, indicating that the reading is complete.
  6. Remove the thermometer and clean it with an alcohol wipe.
  7. Record the temperature and monitor it for any changes.

It is important to note that if your cat becomes too stressed or aggressive during the process, it is best to seek assistance from a veterinarian to ensure the safety of both you and your cat.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

While a mild fever in cats can often be managed at home, there are certain situations where immediate veterinary care is necessary. You should contact your veterinarian if:

  • Your cat’s temperature exceeds 104°F (40°C)
  • The fever persists for more than 24-48 hours
  • Your cat shows signs of severe illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing
  • Your cat is a young kitten, elderly, or has pre-existing health conditions

These situations may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires professional medical attention.

Causes of Fever in Cats

A fever in cats can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Infections, such as bacterial, viral, or fungal
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as pancreatitis or arthritis
  • Reaction to medication or vaccines
  • Heatstroke or exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer

Identifying the underlying cause of your cat’s fever is essential for appropriate treatment and management.

Treatment and Home Care

If your cat has a mild fever and is otherwise behaving normally, you can try some home care measures to help them recover:

  • Ensure your cat has access to fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration.
  • Provide a comfortable and quiet space for your cat to rest and recover.
  • Monitor their temperature regularly to track any changes.
  • Offer small, easily digestible meals to entice your cat to eat.
  • Administer any prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian.

However, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before administering any over-the-counter medications to your cat, as some human medications can be toxic to felines.

Preventing Fevers in Cats

While it may not always be possible to prevent fevers in cats, there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk:

  • Ensure your cat is up to date on vaccinations to protect against common infectious diseases.
  • Keep your cat’s living environment clean and free from potential hazards.
  • Provide a balanced diet and regular exercise to support your cat’s overall health and immune system.
  • Regularly check your cat for any signs of illness or abnormalities.
  • Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or health.


Recognizing the signs of a fever in your cat is crucial for their well-being. By monitoring their temperature and seeking veterinary care when necessary, you can ensure that your feline friend receives the appropriate treatment and recovers quickly. Remember to provide a comfortable environment and follow your veterinarian’s advice for the best outcome. By being proactive and attentive to your cat’s health, you can help them lead a happy and healthy life.


1. Can cats get fevers from the common cold?

No, cats cannot catch the common cold from humans. However, they can develop respiratory infections caused by specific feline viruses or bacteria, which may result in a fever.

2. Is it safe to give my cat fever-reducing medications?

No, it is not safe to give your cat any medications without consulting a veterinarian first. Some human medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can be toxic to cats and cause severe complications.

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