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How to Tell If My Cat has a Fever: 10 Vet-Reviewed Signs

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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For us, it’s easy to tell if we have a fever simply by feeling our foreheads or using a thermometer. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple as a pet parent when you think your cat is sick and might have a fever. It’s also important to note that a normal temperature in cats isn’t the same as a normal temperature in humans. A cat’s normal temperature runs between 100.4 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, how can you tell when a cat has a fever? There are a few likely signs to watch for. We’ll give you a list of them and some things you can do to lower that fever in the guide below.


How to Tell If Your Cat Has A Fever

1. Lack of Interest in Playing/Normal Behavior

One of the most common signs that your cat is sick and has a fever is a lack of interest in playing or participating in its normal activities. Every cat is different and has typical behaviors and activities they exhibit every day. If your cat’s behavior changes drastically, then they could be sick, have a fever, and need to be seen by a vet.

While there are many reasons that a cat might not be acting normal, this is one of the signs to be on the lookout for if you’re concerned that your cat might have a fever.

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2. Lethargy

As with humans, a fever is your cat’s body’s way of fighting off an infection. Whether the infection is viral or bacterial, the body fights it by raising the cat’s internal body temperature by activating the cat’s immune system.

Having no energy and being lethargic is a very common side effect of having a fever and is one of the main signs that your cat indeed has one and might need to see a vet as soon as possible.

tired sick cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Natata, Shutterstock
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3. Lack of Appetite

While a lack of appetite can be traced back to a few different things with your cat, it is a common sign of a fever and sickness as well. If you find that your cat is refusing food, then it’s probably best to make an appointment with your vet for a diagnosis and to get to the root of the problem.

Cats do sometimes have days where they don’t eat as much as on other days. However, if they refuse the food they usually love, it could be a cause for concern.

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4. Hiding or Staying Away from Others

As a pet parent, you already know that cats are by nature programmed to survive. So when they get sick, they tend to go off on their own or hide from others so as not to be vulnerable to attack.

In the wild, cats are vulnerable to attack from larger predators when they are sick. This means if your cat is feeling bad, it will hide away from others to protect itself until it’s feeling well again.

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain
Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock
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5. Grooming Decreases

Cats are very meticulous and clean animals, so if your cat stops grooming itself, then you can pretty well bet something is wrong. Healthy cats can be seen grooming themselves quite often.

If you notice your cat isn’t grooming itself at all, then it’s time to make an appointment with your vet for a diagnosis of a possible underlying condition. Cats don’t stop grooming themselves for no reason, and a fever will make them feel bad enough that they don’t feel like it.

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6. Breathing Rapidly

A cat that is breathing rapidly is a cause for concern, and you need to get in touch with your vet for an appointment right away. The same goes for panting. If your cat is panting or breathing rapidly, then they could have a fever or an underlying condition that requires quick medical attention.

If you can’t get in with your own vet right away, it’s best to take your cat to the emergency vet clinic in your area instead, especially if your cat is mouth breathing.

blue tabby cat panting in hot weather
Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock
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7. Shivering & Chills

Just as with humans, a cat that is shivering or has chills likely has a fever. This is a telltale sign that your cat is sick, and you need to get them some help.

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8. Rapid Heart Rate

A rapid heart rate and rapid breathing go hand in hand when it comes to a cat having a fever. A cat’s resting heart rate isn’t the same as a human’s; their heart rate should be between 120 to 160 beats a minute.

A fever can cause their heart rate to become rapid. If your cat’s resting heart rate gets to 240 beats a minute, it’s time to get them to an emergency vet right away.

yellow sad sick cat
Image Credit: Nikolay Bassov, Shutterstock
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9. Drinking Less Often

Drinking water is essential to a cat’s health, just as it is to a human. A fever can cause your cat to not only lose its appetite but to drink less often as well. Dehydration can easily and quickly set in, and that can be dangerous for your feline pal.

Keep a close eye on your feline, and if they seem to be drinking fewer fluids, it’s time to contact a vet.

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10. Temperature is 102.5 Degrees or Higher

digital thermometer showing a cat has a fever
Image Credit: Evgeniy Kalinovskiy, Shutterstock

One clear sign that your cat is sick with a fever is if the thermometer reads 102.5 degrees or higher when you check the cat’s temperature.

A pediatric thermometer is the easiest way to check your cat’s temperature. The temperature should be taken in the rectum. If the cat’s temperature reaches over 106 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to seek help immediately, as your cat’s organs can start shutting down at this high temperature.

These are just a few of the signs you’ll likely see if your cat has a temperature. In our guide below, we’ll give you a few of the causes of fevers in cats and a little bit on how to care for your feline friend as they recover.

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Causes of Fever in Cats

There are a few different reasons that your cat might be suffering from a fever. We’ll list a few of them for you below.

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Toxins or poisoning
  • Cancers or tumors
  • Injuries
  • A metabolic disorder
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites
  • Environmental causes
  • Autoimmune disorders

These are a few of the possible causes for your cat suffering from a fever. This isn’t to say that something very serious is wrong with your pet. However, if your cat has a fever, it’s best to get in touch with your vet for an appointment just to be on the safe side.

cat and vet
Image Credit: Stock-Asso, Shutterstock

How to Care for a Cat with a Fever

It is essential to note at this point that you should never give your cat medication for a fever. Cats don’t need to take human medicine, as it could make them even sicker. In fact, you should never give any type of medication to your pet without first getting your vet’s approval.

If you discover or suspect that your cat has a fever, your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan, including making sure that your cat doesn’t become dehydrated while it’s sick.

The best thing you can do for your furry friend after the vet visit is to pamper the cat, let it sleep, and patiently wait for it to get better. Love helps as well, so don’t forget to give your cat lots of that as they recover!

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Final Thoughts

This concludes our guide on how to tell if your cat has a fever. Remember, if your cat does have a fever, there could be a myriad of causes for the underlying illness they might have. It’s best to contact your vet to determine what the problem is and to get a treatment plan that works and will have your little feline friend feeling better in no time at all.

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Featured Image Credit: Suthin Saenontad, Shutterstock