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Healthy Cats

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Fevers in Cats

Tips for Taking a Cat’s Temperature

The only way you can know for certain that your cat has a fever is to take his temperature.

A pediatric rectal thermometer is the most accurate method for taking a cat’s temperature. A digital thermometer is safer than a glass thermometer. It won’t shatter if you drop it, and it gives a signal when it’s time to check the reading. You can buy one from your vet or at the drug store.

1. Before you begin, get out all the supplies you’ll need:

  • The thermometer
  • A lubricant for the thermometer, such as petroleum jelly
  • Alcohol and paper towel to clean the thermometer
  • A cat treat

2. Shake a glass thermometer so the mercury is below the 96º line. To check, hold it up to the light and rotate it. To use a digital thermometer, turn it on.

3. Coat the tip of the thermometer with a lubricant.

4. Have a helper restrain your cat with the hind end facing you. Or if you are alone, cradle your cat’s body firmly against you with one arm.

5. Gently lift the tail and slowly insert the thermometer into the anus. Gently twist the thermometer from side to side to get the muscles to relax. Once this occurs, insert the thermometer about one inch into the rectum, but do not force it.

6. Remove a digital thermometer when you hear the beep. Leave a glass thermometer in place for about two minutes.

7. Remove and clean the thermometer with alcohol. Read the temperature, holding a glass thermometer to the light and rotating it.

8. Give your cat a treat if your cat has not been vomiting.

Cat Fever Care

Cats exhibiting signs of a fever for more than 24 hours or a fever above 106º F at any point need to see their veterinarian. The veterinarian may conduct tests to determine the source of the fever and take steps to treat the underlying problem. If a bacterial infection is the source, for example, antibiotics may be needed. Severe dehydration is treated with the administration of intravenous or subcutaneous fluids.

Never give your cat medication without the advice of your veterinarian. Some medications for fever, such as acetaminophen, are toxic to cats.

WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on January 18, 2015
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