Keeping your feline friend in tip-top shape can be challenging if you don’t understand or anticipate its behavioral changes. Fortunately, you can determine if your cat isn’t feeling well by familiarizing yourself with the feline baseline vitals, like cat temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about your cat’s health, including:
- What Are Normal Vital Signs for Cats?
- How to Take Cat Temperature
- How to Tell if a Cat Has a Fever
- How Long Does Cat Fever Last?
- How to Treat Cat Fever
- The Best Cat Thermometer on the Market – Our Top Two Picks
Cats are naturally curious creatures. But, compared to dogs, they’re relatively antisocial and don’t express their emotions much. That’s one reason why many cat owners don’t have a good gauge of how their cat feels, which can be dangerous if their pet falls ill.
Do cats get cold or exhibit other symptoms when they’re ill? Cats hide their feelings when they’re not well as they don’t want to appear weak due to protective and predatory survival instincts. So our best bet to take good care of our furballs is to know the normal feline vital signs.
What Are Normal Vital Signs for Cats?
Cats make excellent companions that help reduce stress and anxiety by building strong bonds with their humans. Unfortunately, your favorite pet can carry harmful germs, causing minor fungal infections or even fatal tumors. That’s why it’s essential to monitor the cat temperature and other vital signs actively and gauge its health when it behaves peculiarly. Here’s the normal cat vitals range:
Cat Temperature Range
A normal cat’s body temperature lies between 99–102.5 degrees, and anything higher indicates an underlying health issue. Among all the signs, the temperature is the easiest one to measure.
A normal, healthy cat has an average respiratory rate between 20–30 breaths per minute. Anything higher is a sign that you need to visit the vet if it doesn’t stabilize soon.
Measuring a cat’s blood pressure isn’t easy since you need to place an inflatable cuff around its leg or tail. A normal reading lies between 120 and 150 mmHg (millimeters of Mercury).
How to Take Cat Temperature
You can check if your pet has a normal temperature in two ways. The only problem is that your feline friend won’t like either.
Using a digital cat ear thermometer, you can gently take readings by holding it at a 90-degree angle while ensuring your cat is steady. We recommend asking a friend to hold your pet during this delicate procedure so you don’t accidentally damage its eardrum. Wait for the thermometer to beep. Then, gently remove it to check the reading, and consider whether your cat has fever symptoms.
Even though rectal temperatures are more accurate, they’re much more challenging to check. They make your cat highly uncomfortable and require holding it down to get a reading.
To check the temperature using this method, you’ll need a rectal thermometer with a flexible tip and a lubricant. You should see the maximum insertion point on the divide to avoid any injuries. Once you hear a beep, gently remove it and view the reading.
How to Tell If Your Cat Has a Fever Without a Thermometer
Although the methods above are the most accurate to get a temperature reading, you don’t necessarily need a device to figure out your cat is sick. Besides, many cats won’t let you take their temperature, so you might as well save yourself the bites and scratches. Here are a few other ways to tell:
Does your cat feel warmer than usual when you stroke its fur or have it sit on your lap? That might be a sign that it has a higher than normal cat temperature. To confirm, pay attention to its behavior. For instance, a sick cat will become lethargic, not eat temporarily, or stop drinking from its favorite cat water fountain.
Check Its Nose
If your cat is in good health, its nose should be cool and moist. A sick cat has a drier and warmer nose, especially if it’s running a fever or getting dehydrated. To confirm, lift some of the fur on the back to see if it snaps back into place or not. If it doesn’t, you’ll know it’s dehydration. If it does, it’s a fever.
Hot Ears and Back
Healthy cat ears are generally warm. But in a cat with a high temperature, you’ll feel the ears noticeably hotter, just like our foreheads when we’re feverish. Your cat’s back may also feel warmer.
Shivering and Fast Breathing
Most cats with a temperature start to breathe faster or pant. Depending on the weather and how they feel, they can also begin shivering.
How to Tell If a Cat Has a Fever
A fever is essentially a higher-than-normal body temperature. But can cats get fevers? They can. A cat, like most mammals, can get hyperthermia for many reasons, like being in a hot environment or its immune system fighting off diseases like:
- Injuries (open wounds)
- Fungal Infections
- Trauma injury
- Viral or Bacterial Infections
The fever itself is due to a substance called pyrogen, which the body can produce or your cat can ingest, causing a chemical release from the white blood cells. That, in turn, resets your cat’s hypothalamus (thermostat), causing fluctuations in the cat temperature.
Cats suffering from any of the underlying health problems above display specific behavior to survive instinctually and conserve energy. If you’re wondering when to visit the vet, pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Loss of Appetite
- Lack of Energy of Activity
- Red Eyes
- Mouth Inflammation
- Cat low temperature and lethargic behavior
- Decreased Drinking
How Long Does Cat Fever Last?
If your cat has a fever with no other symptoms, it typically lasts around 48–72 hours before the body burns off the external threat. That said, it can easily persist for weeks or months, depending on the underlying issue. If left untreated for a while, it could even be life-threatening.
How to Treat Cat Fever
If your cat is exhibiting fever signs for more than 24 hours, don’t wait until the next appointment and proactively go to the vet.
The treatment will depend on the underlying problem. For instance, a bacterial infection usually calls for antibiotics, whereas dehydration requires treatment with intravenous or subcutaneous fluids.
If you see the fever in cats, a home remedy could help. But you must understand that you can never, under any circumstances, attempt to treat it with human medication. Instead, you can try out remedies like:
- Putting a wet towel on your cat
- A cool bath
- Increasing its water and food intake
- Using microbial herbs, like sage and Echinacea, in the form of drops once or twice a day
How Long Will It Take for My Cat’s Fever to Clear Up?
Every cat recovery is different and depends highly on the underlying issue. Generally, a cat can recover from a minor infection within 48 hours. Still, more severe infections or diseases could take weeks or longer, along with several treatment approaches and even surgery.
The Best Cat Thermometer on the Market — Our Top Two Picks
If you’re ready to take matters into your own hands and monitor your cat’s health better, start by investing in a thermometer. Here are the trending top two picks on the market:
iProven Pet Thermometer
The iProven Pet Thermometer on Amazon is among the best-selling rectal thermometers on the market for accurate temperature readings. It features a flexible tip, making it soft and gentle to use. Plus, it’s waterproof. The device is incredibly easy to clean, and you can use the probe cover for extra hygiene and reduce the risk of spreading germs.
AURYNNS Pet Thermometer
The AURYNNS on Amazon is one of the best-selling thermometers that work for all pets. It takes a reading through the rectum with a battery life enough for 5,000 measurements. The device displays an accurate reading of the cat temperature in a second, making it an essential component of your pet first aid kit.
Cats are incredibly adaptable creatures. But they need someone to watch over them and monitor their health. If you’re looking for an innovative solution for that, check out pretty litter reviews.
Generally, actively measuring cat temperature is the best way to check whether your pet is running a fever and find out if you should take it to the vet. Always follow your vet’s advice regarding your cat’s health.