Keeping track of your cat’s vitals can help you understand if your pet is healthy or not – especially since this species is so well-known for hiding symptoms of disease until the condition has become severe.
Your cat’s body temperature can provide a number of clues as to what is happening inside your feline friend’s body. In today’s article, we’re looking at what the normal body temperature of cats is, how to measure your cat’s temperature, and also when you should be worried and take your pet to the vet clinic.
What is the normal body temperature for cats?
While the body temperature of people is somewhere around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees F), the normal body temperature for cats is approximately 38.6 degrees C (101.5 degrees F).
Naturally, it can vary depending on several factors, such as the cat’s health, age, recent physical activity, or the conditions she has had to spend time in (cats that are left out in the freezing cold can quickly become hypothermic, especially if they have nowhere to hide and save their energy).
Usually, the variations that are accepted range from 37.5 to 39.1 degrees C (99.5 to 102.5 degrees F).
Cats are naturally more comfortable than humans in heat, so that’s why even when the weather is scorching in the summer, you might see your feline companion seeking out the warmest spots in your home.
How to measure your cat’s body temperature
For this purpose, you can use two types of thermometers – an infrared one or a rectal one. The second is considered more accurate than the first, but getting into your pet’s anus and waiting for a good 20 seconds until it beeps can be very challenging.
If you decide to use an infrared thermometer, make sure you point it to your cat’s inner ear, as close to the ear canal wall as possible. There could be several inaccuracies in terms of measurement with this device, so your cat’s body temperature could actually be higher by .1 or .2 depending on how well you’ve operated the thermometer, if they have moved, and other such factors that might have affected the whole process.
If at all possible, ask someone to assist you with taking your cat’s body temperature. It will be much easier if someone calms down your cat or even restrains them as you are using the thermometer. Make sure to use vaseline or petroleum jelly if you decide to use the rectal device.
You can measure a cat’s temperature even when they’re standing or sitting if you’re using an ear thermometer, whereas, with the rectal measurement, they should be lying on their side.
When should you take your cat to the vet?
Every time you notice that the readings are below or above the normal limits for a cat’s temperature, you should consider going to the animal hospital. Both fever and hypothermia are emergencies.
If your cat’s body is colder than 37.2 degrees C (99 degrees F) or hotter than 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), go to the veterinary clinic immediately.
Hypothermia is somewhat less common in cats, if not only for the reason that the majority of pets these days do find the opportunity to retreat to a warmer place in case the weather gets dangerously cold – even the cats that spend time indoors and outdoors will usually do this.
Naturally, indoor cats are always better protected, not only against inclement weather but also potential predators, parasites, or viruses, and bacteria.
Hypothermia in cats causes symptoms such as the following:
- Skin that is cold to the touch
- Superficial breathing
- Pale gums
If you measure your cat’s temperature and it is below 37.2 degrees C, try to raise it immediately. In case you don’t own an electric heating pad, at least boil some water, pour it into two glass bottles, cover them with a blanket or towels, and put them close to your pet’s body. You can also use a magic bag for the purpose, the one that can be heated in the microwave.
If your cat is conscious and manifests any interest in drinking water, give them mildly heated bone broth or any type of strained chicken or meat broth instead of plain cold water.
A fever in cats can be considered when their body temperature reaches at least 102.6 degrees F (39.2 degrees C). Anything above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) should be a reason to feel worried because the cat might not have simply basked in the sun for a good couple of hours, but they might have also contracted a disease such as an infection.
Fevers can be caused by a range of conditions, such as bacterial or viral infections, but also inflammation, internal injuries, trauma, severe pain, and even some medications.
Besides the obvious increase in body temperature, pet parents might notice the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite for food or water
- Digestive distress (diarrhea or vomiting)
While you do not need to measure your cat’s body temperature every single day, sometimes keeping track of variations might be a good idea – especially if your pet has a chronic disease. If you notice any of the symptoms that we have mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.