When you have a fever, your body is signaling to you that something is out of whack, but is the same thing true for your beloved pet? Can your cat get a fever?
The short answer is yes, cats can get fevers. But how do you know what a cat fever is–and whether or not your cat has one? What causes a cat fever, and what to do if you suspect your cat is suffering? In this article, we’re going to share everything you need to know about cats and fevers so you can act quickly if you suspect your cat has a fever.
Does My Cat Have a Fever?
The average body temperature for a cat ranges from about 100.4 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That range can vary by breed and by the individual. In fact, for some cats, a temperature of 99 degrees is even still in the normal range. Before you can truly tell if your cat has a fever, you need to know your cat’s individual average. That way, you can tell when he or she experiences a temperature outside the normal range.
Track and log your cat’s individual temperature to know what is considered a fever for them specifically. While taking your cat’s temperature at home might seem daunting, establishing the skills and the routine while your cat is well will help you to easily take his or her temperature when something might be wrong. And, by keeping careful track of your cat’s temperature and other vital signs every month, you’ll know exactly what your pet’s typical range is–and know immediately when your cat gets a fever.
If you begin to suspect your cat has a fever, you’ll have the tools and knowledge to take your cat’s temperature and compare it to the log you’ve been keeping. If your cat’s temperature measures above 102.5–or above his or her baseline–you know you’re dealing with a cat fever.
5 Common Causes for a Cat Fever
If you’ve determined your cat does have a fever, there are many reasons your cat might be experiencing this elevated temperature. While many of these causes are incredibly common, this list isn’t exhaustive. These are among the most common causes of cat fevers, but you should always consult your vet to determine a specific diagnosis.
- Infection: bacterial, viral, and fungal infections all cause a fever in cats
- Injury: either internal or as a result of physical trauma, such as a bite wound
- Parasites: along with diarrhea, fever is one of the most common signs of parasites in cats
- Cancer: because there are so many types of cancers and a huge variety of symptoms, don’t panic that your cat has cancer simply because he or she has a fever, but do consult with your vet to rule it out
- Autoimmune disease: with autoimmune diseases, your cat’s immune system attacks itself, and this can often come with a fever
These are only a handful of the possible causes, each with several nuanced conditions or diseases included under the umbrella term. Always defer to your vet to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s fever.
If you are aware of pre-existing conditions, can your cat get a fever from their impact on its heath? Make sure to let your veterinarian know any important information that could have an impact on the diagnosis.
When to Go To the Vet for a Cat With a Fever
A temperature above 106 degrees Fahrenheit is always an emergency. High fevers can damage organs, so if your cat clocks a temp above 106, head straight to your closest emergency vet.
If your cat’s temperature rises above 102.5, call your vet. Can your cat get a fever for reasons that don’t require medical attention? Sure, it might be nothing–perhaps a temporary increase due to stress, excitement, or over-activity–but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cat fevers. Also head to the vet if your cat is experiencing any other symptoms (sneezing, diarrhea, lethargy, breathing problems, and so on) in addition to fever.
When you call your veterinarian, report the temperature along with your cat’s typical baseline. The vet will determine if you need to come in immediately or schedule an appointment. Bring along your at-home measurements to share with your cat’s doctor. Because there are so many potential reasons for a cat to get a fever, the vet will perform an exam, run any necessary tests, and suggest therapies for mitigating the fever and its cause. If additional testing is needed, your vet will be able to determine what diagnostics need to be performed to determine the underlying cause. If it’s an infection or trauma resulting from an injury, the answer will be more obvious than if it’s cancer or an autoimmune disease, of course, but in all cases, a fever should be checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
It can be scary when our cats are ill, and fevers can seem especially worrisome. Always seek vet help if you’re unsure whether your cat really does have a temperature or if you suspect another underlying issue. If you’ve already been to the vet and your cat’s fever doesn’t resolve, another trip is warranted to make sure you’re pursuing the best treatment.
Fevers are the body’s way of fighting something off, but your cat’s veterinarian can give you the right steps to take to help your cat. And, by starting with a monthly log of your individual cat’s baseline temperature, your vet will be able to put your cat on the path to healing quickly and efficiently.
Do you know your cat’s baseline temperature? Has your cat ever gotten a fever?
Your cat’s baseline temperature is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. It’s super easy! We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it. All you need to do is take the time to check your cat’s health stats and log them.
Pet health and cat health is an important aspect of helping our cats live long and happy lives. You can start today by taking your cat’s temperature and signing up for Pet Health 5.
About the Author: Maggie Marton writes about dogs, cats, and kids–and often the intersection of all three–for print and web publications and on her award-winning blog, OhMyDogBlog.com. Maggie co-authored Pet Blogging for Love and Money, a guide to launching and running a profitable pet blog. She lives in the Indianapolis area with a dog, two cats, a tank of fish, two preschoolers, and a patient husband.