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What is Fever?

Because a fever is a symptom rather than a condition, diagnosis of its cause is necessary for successful treatment. Medical attention is required for higher fevers or fevers that last more than one or two days. Do not try to treat the cat’s fever at home as many medications are dangerous for cats and the underlying cause of the fever could be serious. 

Fever is a common symptom of infections, illnesses, some cancers, and various disorders. Cats are considered to have a fever if their body temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit. A serious fever that requires immediate medical treatment occurs if the animal’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. With these higher temperatures, cats can be at a high risk of brain and heart damage and even death. 

Symptoms of Fever in Cats

The primary symptom associated with fever in cats is a body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Observable symptoms generally include flushing and lethargy. In cases of higher temperatures or prolonged fever, more severe symptoms may occur. The cat may demonstrate a variety of other symptoms based on the underlying issue causing the fever. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Dry skin or mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Flushing or reddening of the skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid pulse
  • Panting or breathing fast

Severe Symptoms Include:

  • Behavior changes
  • Confusion
  • Shock
  • Seizure
  • Death

Causes of Fever in Cats

A variety of medical issues can cause a fever in cats or other companion animals. Fever is a common symptom of many infections and diseases. In some cases, the cause of the fever may not be determined. Causes of fever can include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Various parasites
  • Tumors or some cancers
  • Internal injury
  • Some medications
  • Poisoning or toxins
  • Immune-mediated inflammatory disease
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Environmental causes

Diagnosis of Fever in Cats

Diagnosing fever can be accomplished by taking the cat’s temperature. This is generally accomplished rectally, using a thermometer. The animal’s body temperature will determine if a fever is present. If a fever is present, further diagnostic measures will be taken to determine the cause. A fever is generally a symptom of an illness, disease, or condition. Be prepared to discuss your pet’s medical history and any symptoms you have observed. The veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and may take samples of blood and urine for analysis. A full blood panel and testing for various infectious or inflammatory diseases will be required to determine why the cat’s body temperature is elevated. Veterinary staff may also use X-rays or other imaging technologies to look for signs of infections, injuries, or tumors. If, after extensive diagnostic effort, the cause of the fever cannot be determined, the patient will be diagnosed with a fever of unknown origin.

Treatment of Fever in Cats

Little can be done to treat a fever until its cause has been determined. With lower fevers, the veterinarian may not even attempt to reduce the fever as it is normal for the body to raise its temperature in an effort to aid the immune system when fighting infections. Maintaining hydration and temperature reduction will be the primary focus when treating the fever and additional treatments will vary based on underlying condition. Hospitalization may be required for monitoring and treatment of your pet and could range from a couple of days to several weeks. Some common treatments include:

  • Intravenous (IV) Fluids: Fluid therapy is necessary if the cat is showing signs of dehydration. IV fluids combat dehydration, provide nutrients to aid with lack of appetite, and may assist in lowering the core body temperature slightly. This common treatment has a very low risk of side effects. 
  • Fever Reducing Medications: Some medications for pain relief and inflammation, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, are effective for fever reduction. Never attempt to provide your cat this type of medication at home unless prescribed by veterinary staff, as it could cause severe reactions. To reduce the risk of serious complications, your veterinarian will determine the appropriate dose for your pet’s size and needs. 
  • Antibiotics: Infections are a common cause of fevers, making antibiotics a common treatment. This type of medication works to eliminate bacterial infections, so your veterinarian will not prescribe it unless the infection has been identified as the cause. 
  • Corticosteroids: This category of drug is used to fight inflammation, which is a common cause of fever. It may be used to treat various conditions that cause fevers and is often used in fevers of unknown origin. 
  • Surgery: In cases with severe infection, tumors, or certain parasites, surgery may be necessary to remove the cause. Surgery can put your pet at risk so your veterinarian will need to determine if this is the best course of action for your cat’s recovery. 

Recovery of Fever in Cats

The prognosis for recovery from a fever depends on the underlying cause. In the case of minor infections or illnesses and some fevers of unknown origin, the fever will be reduced with treatment and the cat’s prognosis is very good. If the underlying condition is more severe, your pet’s recovery may take considerably more time and treatment. When your cat returns home, continue to monitor them carefully for return of the fever or other symptoms. If your pet’s condition worsens, return to the veterinarian for medical assistance. Be sure to follow all of the instructions provided by your veterinarian, including finishing the full course of medications even if symptoms appear to have improved or the fever has gone away. Your cat will need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated so ensure that water is readily available. Your pet will need to maintain an appropriate caloric intake while they have a fever, so some dietary changes may be required to support your pet’s recovery, including nutritious food or possibly high-calorie liquids. 

Fever Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

American Shorthair
5 months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Elevated heart rate

My kitten hasn’t shown any other symptoms of illness besides a fever of 103, which we found out when we took them to the vet today to get the second round of their shots. When I held her while we were in the car driving home, her heart rate felt elevated but I figured that’s typically normal when a cat is nervous, and she really hates car rides. Is it possible that her fever could have been because of stress due to going to the vet, or should I be more concerned with her temperature? She has had coccidia in the past, but isn’t currently showing any of those symptoms either.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1675 Recommendations
Some kittens get stressed by unfamiliar surroundings, especially if there were dogs barking because there wasn’t a segregated consultancy room for dogs and cats; I would keep an eye on Louise for the time being but if she is still having difficulties by the morning you may consider returning to your Veterinarian for another examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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who dat
7 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

how long does it take for a cat to get better after 104 fever then also seziures she isn't drinking unless i give her water through a shot thing or put her face to the water

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1675 Recommendations
A fever of 104ºF is a high fever, the recovery of which would depend on the underlying cause and any treatment given; fever may be caused by infection, inflammation, neoplastic disease, allergies and other conditions. It may be a case of taking Who Dat into your Veterinarian for an examination as she may require fluid therapy and other treatment to bring the fever under control. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

shivering, twitching, ears are warm

my cat just got badly bitten and he was shivering and convulsing and twitching in his sleep.He was also crying continuously and only stopped when he went to sleep. His ears got really warm and his breathing was irregular and rapid. what do i do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1675 Recommendations
If Harry is displaying these symptoms there isn’t a specific at home treatment that can be done apart from keeping him comfortable and ensuring that he is hydrated; I would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian for an examination to make sure there is no brain injury since Harry is convulsing. It is impossible to determine without an examination if Harry requires treatment or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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