Know your cat's body temperature! Explains normal temperature, how to measure it, and causes of fever.

If your cat catches a cold or is not feeling well, he or she may also develop a fever. However, there are many owners who say, "I have never taken a temperature at home...", and it seems that most of them do not have a pet thermometer at home. If you can measure your body temperature on a regular basis, you will not be in a hurry in an emergency. In this article, we will tell you about the body temperature of cats, the causes of fever, how to measure it, and normal temperature. Now you can measure your cat's temperature and be ready for any emergency!

What is your cat's normal temperature?

A cat's normal temperature is higher than that of a human, around 38.3-39.0°C. Kittens tend to be a little higher. There are also some differences depending on the time of day. There is also a change due to activity, and body temperature rises after eating and after exercise. Since there are individual differences, you can check the high and low of the fever by measuring the body temperature on a daily basis.

What are the symptoms and conditions of cats?

When a cat has a fever, it often exceeds 40°C. Also, when a fever occurs, in addition to an increase in body temperature, it is often accompanied by a decrease in appetite and energy, diarrhea and vomiting. They may hide in cold places they don't normally go (doorways, hallways, behind washing machines, under sofas, etc.). Causes of fever include infections, inflammation, heatstroke, and immune disorders.

Infection

If you are infected with bacteria or viruses, you may develop a fever. By raising the body temperature, it is possible to suppress the growth of pathogens that have entered the body. Fever also activates the immune system. Diseases that can be considered as infectious diseases in cats include:
  • Calicivirus infection
  • Feline infectious peritonitis/feline enteric coronavirus infection
  • Feline leukemia virus infection
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus infection
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis
  • feline parvovirus infection
…and so on. Diagnosis is often made by blood tests, genetic tests for runny nose/tears, echocardiograms, and X-rays, along with the symptoms.

inflammation

Inflammation is the body's defense reaction against pathogens and damage, and causes symptoms such as swelling and pain in addition to fever. When inflammation occurs, the capillaries dilate, causing a large amount of blood to gather, resulting in a fever. Inflammation is caused by various diseases such as hepatitis, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and polyarthritis. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, blood tests, and imaging tests.

heatstroke

If you have a fever in the summer, there are many cases where you suspect heat stroke. If you are in a hot situation and cannot drink water, you will get heatstroke even if you are staying indoors. The body temperature is often over 40.5°C, so it is necessary to take cooling measures immediately.

immune disease

Diseases that attack the body's own cells as enemies (autoimmune diseases) may also be accompanied by fever.

Causes of low fever in cats

When the temperature is low, circulation may be poor. Hypothermia is common in kittens and senior cats. Hypothermia is
  • Mild: 32-37.5°C
  • Moderate: 28-32°C
  • Severe: <28°C
In either case, prompt heat retention and appropriate treatment are required. When the fever is low, shivering (disappearing below 31°C), bradycardia, and hypotension are often seen. First, move the child to a warm environment and cover the whole body with a blanket. Be careful not to burn yourself, and you can use a heat-retaining mat or Hokkairo.

How and where to measure a cat's fever

Take your temperature when you are calm or asleep, not after exercising or eating. People measure their temperature under their armpits, but cats begin to measure their temperature with their ears and buttocks. Thermometers for humans can be used as substitutes, but it would be safer to have a thermometer for animals. Veterinary rectal thermometers have a slightly softer tip that is easier to insert into the anus. By attaching the cover and inserting it, you can use it hygienically. When measuring body temperature, apply a lubricant (oil, special gel, etc.) to the tip and insert it up to 1.2 cm from the anus. Many children are reluctant to use their buttocks, so in that case, use an ear thermometer. However, ear thermometers tend to give a slightly lower value, so it's a good idea to measure yourself regularly and know the average value. It is also possible to read approximate body temperature through physical contact. By touching the belly, ears, etc., it is possible to roughly recognize whether it is higher or lower than usual.

Cool your body when you have a fever

Cooling the body down may help. Cool areas with thick blood vessels, such as the neck and armpits, with ice packs wrapped in a towel. Additional cooling may be required in case of heat stroke. Put a towel over the area other than the face, pour water (tap water) over it, and use a paper fan or electric fan to blow the air. This is a treatment method that lowers the heat using the heat of vaporization. Lowering the temperature all at once can cause hypothermia, so be sure to use a thermometer to keep the temperature below 39.5°C. However, the cause is not resolved, so let's take a veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

Check your health every day along with your fever!

Let's check not only heat but also other factors.
  • Are you pooping and peeing properly?
  • Do you have an appetite and are you well?
  • Are you grooming yourself properly?
  • Are you sleeping comfortably?
  • Do you have symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea?
  • Is your gait normal?
  • Can you jump and run?

By combining various points, you can quickly notice the disease.

[Summary] Cat's body temperature ~ Tell us about how to measure it, normal temperature, and causes of fever

When you are not feeling well, you often have a fever along with the loss of energy and appetite. Fever is an objective index and can quickly detect abnormalities. Therefore, make a habit of measuring your temperature on a regular basis. Also, if your cat has a fever, take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Reference material
  • Hajime Tsujimoto, Shuichi Koyama, Kiyoshi Okusa, Atsushi Nakamura, Cat Treatment Guide 2020, EDUWARD Press, p74-p75