How to recognize and treat cat fever

Like us humans, our cat can also have a fever when it is sick. But how to recognize and treat cat fever effectively and without contraindications?

To understand if a child has a fever, we can touch his forehead. Many people have tried using the same method with their cat, perhaps even trying to feel the temperature of the ears or nose. But it’s not that simple, unfortunately. Sure, some cats have much warmer ears than usual when they have a fever, but in most cases this is not the case. Sometimes the heat in their ears can also be due to nervousness, perhaps while we are waiting at the vet. And there is no correlation between body temperature and the condition of the nose. So how can we recognize and treat a fever in our cat?

What is cat fever

A cat that has a fever can usually be recognized by some common behaviors of this condition.

Typical signs are: weakness, lethargy, poor appetite, an apparent increase in respiratory rate, which however has no correlation to other conditions.

In fact, the only way to know if your cat has a fever is to take his body temperature. And it’s best to avoid mercury thermometers.

Digital thermometers are very fast, so they are more recommended, but a pediatric rectal thermometer made of glass can also work.

To take the temperature of the cat, it is best to do it in two. Felines are not very cooperative animals in this sense.

One person can gently hold the cat while the other person inserts the thermometer about 2-3 cm into his rectum, using a lot of lubricant.

We leave the thermometer for how long it takes to measure (depending on the model, there will be different instructions to follow).

The optimal temperature for a domestic cat is between 37.5 ° C and 39 ° C. If the temperature is higher, we need to take the cat to the vet.

In any case, never administer medications without them being prescribed by a medical expert, not even paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin.

The most common causes of fever in cats are: infectious diseases, cancer, reactions to a drug that has been taken, immune-mediated disorders, inflammatory conditions .

Causes of infections are the most common reason in the case of fever of unknown origin (also called FUO, or Fever of Unknown Origin).

Cancer is less common, and immune-mediated disorders are also very rare. Most cases are actually caused by a common disease with unusual symptoms.

How to recognize cat fever

First of all, trying to cure our cat’s fever with home methods is not a safe method. We must always contact our veterinarian.

First, we need to understand what it really means to say that our cat has a fever, and then figure out how to lower its temperature.

The body temperature of animals is regulated by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain. A sort of thermostat inside the body.

Fever is therefore an increase in the body’s temperature, due to an illness. This happens due to a disturbance of the thermal regulation. 

In this case, the hypothalamus raises the thermostat excessively, telling the body to actively hold the temperature.

A cat’s body temperature is normally higher than that of us humans. Usually, when it gets to 39.5 ° C, vets speak of true fever.

And if in the case of us humans our primary goal is to lower the body temperature in these cases, for cats instead we must find the reason, first of all.

In fact, veterinarians consider fever a symptom, not a disease. And while it improves the immune system’s response, it makes the cat feel very sick.

Understanding what caused the fever may not be easy. Historical information on the health of our cat is very useful in these cases.

The most important information to have are: the status of vaccinations, the recent administration of drugs, recent trips made with the cat, and any type of exposure to infectious agents.

A trip abroad, perhaps, may have caused exposure to something infectious. But also a cat show or a kennel, for example.

The vet must then carry out a thorough physical examination to understand where the cat’s fever comes from.

How to cure cat fever

To treat a fever of unknown origin in cats, the vet will need to look for the cause as much as possible and then treat that cause.

Medicines used for humans (such as antipyretics) are usually not suitable for cats, so they should be avoided.

This is why, as we said before, there is no need to treat cat fever at home. Many human drugs are toxic or even lethal to pets.

Usually due to poor appetite and dehydration, fever increases our cat’s need for fluids.

And of course, it is not easy for a cat to be told to rest and drink plenty of fluids, as a doctor would do for us patients.

For this reason, in the most serious cases, veterinarians opt for hospitalization, for therapy with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, or for food support until the cause is found or the fever resolves on its own.

And precisely because cat fever is a symptom of a disease, the disease must be treated to solve the problem.

Treatment of the disease, in case of infections or minor problems (respiratory tract infections, abscesses), will usually resolve the fever.

In the case of a more serious disease, however, the treatment will be more intense and recovery will take longer.

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