Cats are frisky, energetic pets that usually enjoy running, jumping and climbing on window sills and furniture. If you find your usually playful kitty lethargic, weak and pale, it could be a cause for concern. If your cat suddenly does not want to eat and loses interest in playing or grooming, you need to check whether she is running a fever, and you may not have a thermometer to hand.
How to tell if your cat has a fever without a thermometer
Her body feels too hot.
Try feeling your cat’s body to ascertain whether she has a fever. A healthy cat’s temperature is between 100.4 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit; any higher than this means she is running a fever. The high temperature could be due to a viral, fungal or bacterial infection. Injury, tumors or lupus could also trigger a fever.
Her nose is dry and warm.
A healthy cat’s nose is cool and moist; if she is sick, her nose might be dry and warm. However, a cat’s nose may also be dry if she is dehydrated. To ascertain whether your cat is dehydrated rather than feverish, lift some fur and skin on the back of her neck or along her back. If it does not return to its normal position within a couple of seconds, it means she is dehydrated. Keep in mind that fever and dehydration can go hand in hand, so one does not rule out the other.
Her ears are hot.
Your cat is healthy if the inner side of her ear feels warm. However, she likely has a fever if it is noticeably hot, just like a person’s forehead feels hot if they have a fever.
Her back is warm.
A feverish cat will have a warmer back than that of a healthy cat. However, make sure it really is due to fever, because it could also be that your cat was napping in a sunny spot or near a heating vent.
She is breathing faster and is shivering.
Cats with a fever tend to pant or breathe faster, just as humans tend to shiver when they are running a fever.
Signs that your cat has a fever
1. She loses her appetite.
Cats that are feeling ill may lose interest in food or their favorite treats. They may not even take the time to smell their food.
2. She is depressed.
A sick cat looks unhappy and may show signs of lethargy. She will not play, preferring to hide under the bed or in a quiet part of the home.
3. She is drinking less water.
Aside from losing their appetite, a sick cat will also drink less water. Just like humans, sick cats find it hard to eat or drink when they are feeling ill.
4. She is grooming less.
Sick cats often do not have the energy to groom themselves. They also may not stretching out their legs, since they are too weak to do so.
Cats that have a fever also tend to breathe rapidly and may manifest other symptoms such as sneezing, vomiting or diarrhea.
What causes fever in cats?
Common causes of fever in cats include trauma, illness, medication reactions and bacterial or fungal infections. Your cat may also overheat from excessive exercise.
Cats have a slightly higher body temperature than humans and, as mentioned previously, anything above 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit indicates a fever. To fight diseases, the body’s natural defense system raises the body temperature. However, anything above 106 degrees Fahrenheit could do serious harm. If you suspect that your cat has a high fever, take her to the vet immediately to avoid complications.
What to do if your cat has a fever
Sick and feverish cats become easily dehydrated, so if your cat is running a fever, offer her some water. If she has a fever above 106 degrees Fahrenheit and this has continued for longer than a day, take her to the vet. Your vet will conduct the necessary tests to diagnose the problem and may prescribe medication. Intravenous fluids may also be administered. Never medicate your cat without proper instructions from your vet.
If you notice that your usually playful cat is pale, is not eating her meals or is hiding under the bed, be concerned. These are all signs that your cat may have a fever and could be ill. You can make a fairly good guess as to whether your cat has a fever even without a thermometer, by checking her nose, ears and back. If these body parts are unusually hot, it is likely that she has a fever. Your cat may also be shivering and may have lost interest in grooming herself.
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