Physiological body temperature in cats is not an absolute indicator of health. However, changes in body temperature are often associated with a disease. In order to notice the danger and start treatment timely, owners need to know the normal body temperature of their cats.
Body temperature of a healthy cat
Cat’s body as the body of every living creature on the planet has its own body temperature, optimal for the existence of this biological species. Body temperature is regulated by the nervous system, pituitary, hypothalamus, and some other factors that are not studied completely so far. The body temperature in cats can vary from 99 °F to 102,5 °F. This figure is different for every single cat: in some pets 100 °F is considered to be normal and other ones may have 102 °F and feel absolutely okay .
It may seem that a difference in 3 °F is negligible. However, every owner should know how to measure the cat’s temperature and remember what temperature is normal for the cat. Ignorance of this indicator can lead to unpleasant consequences. For example, by measuring the temperature and getting the result 102 °F, the veterinarian determines that the cat is sick, but in fact it is okay. Or, on the contrary, when the physiological temperature about 102 °F is considered normal, for this particular cat such figures are a signal of a disease.
It is interesting that body temperature of hairless cat breeds doesn’t differ significantly from the body temperature of furry pets. Although by touch bare bodies seem to be hotter than the coat.
Normal body temperature in cats can vary by 1-1.5 °F throughout the day. In the morning the temperature tends to be a bit lower than in the evening. When a cat is resting the temperature is normal, but after some active games it may slightly increase.
Body temperature of a kitten
If you imagine a cat’s body as a wonderful mechanism, the kitten’s body is a “test program.” All its internal organs, tissues and brain are actively growing and getting used to respond to changes in the environment. The thermoregulatory system isn’t perfect yet. Therefore, the temperature in kittens is higher than that of an adult cat – the body actively reacts to the environment, sometimes for no reason, just in case. It is also a kind of protection from hypothermia. The body is still not sure that the environment can be “trusted.”
Constant temperature is set in about two to three months. In little kittens the temperature between 102 and 103 °F is considered the norm, but it is important to know individual parameters.
High and low temperature
When the body temperature is more than 103 °F it is a sign of a viral/bacterial infection or inflammatory process occurring in the body of the pet.
In fact, fever is an amazing process. When an “enemy” enters the cell of the body, the cell calls interferons and other endogenous pyrogens for help. Pyrogens destroy microbes inside the cell and in order to get an advantage, pyrogens “cheat” the hypothalamus, giving it a signal that the body feels cold. As a result, hypothalamus raises the body temperature – so normal temperature turns into fever.
After pyrogens beat the infection, they send hypothalamus a new signal, like “the body temperature is too high, the environment temperature is comfortable.” In return, hypothalamus takes measures: skin vessels dilate, the body begins to give off heat, so the temperature is lowered to the optimum level.
If the cat suffers from fever, you should immediately contact the veterinary clinic. It is forbidden to appoint the treatment on your own and give the cat antipyretics and/or diuretics designed for people. At extremely high temperatures – above 105 °F, – you need to wrap the pet in a towel soaked with cool water and go to the clinic immediately.
Low temperature in cats (98.6 °F and less) is a dangerous phenomenon too. Such temperature lowering can occur due to hypothermia or blood loss. Low temperature occurs in cats with heart disease, kidney disease, or with diseases of nervous and endocrine systems. If the cat body temperature decreases to 98.6 °F and less, you should consult a veterinarian within 24 hours. If the temperature continues decreasing, you need to cover the cat with a blanket, put a warm heating pad to the paws and immediately go to the vet.
How to measure cat’s body temperature?
The body temperature of cats is measured rectally. The thermometer tip should be lubricated with liquid paraffin, and then entered into the anus for about 1 cm. After the procedure, the tip of the thermometer should be carefully wiped with a cotton pad soaked in alcohol.
It is desirable to use an electronic thermometer as it quickly responds to changes in temperature. Mercury thermometer will show the temperature in about five minutes. Also, if the cat will manage to escape, the broken glass can damage the lining of the rectum and the mercury gets inside or will be smashed on the floor.
As it is extremely difficult to measure the temperature of the resisting cat, you can wrap it into a dense blanket, leaving the back and the tail outside. If the cat is quite calm you can act differently. In such cases the owner puts the cat on his or her lap, stroking it behind the ears and making it relaxed. An assistant gently introduces thermometer and controls the result. This method takes longer, but it will be less stressful for a cat.