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How to take your cat's temperature

Updated on October 7, 2008

Step by step instructions


You come home only to find that your cat is acting sickly. He has refused his favorite canned food and now he is laying on your bed unusually lethargic. Concerned, you try to figure out what could have happened in your absence. You check him out for signs of injury or pain, yet nothing seems wrong. The only unusual thing worth mentioning is that his ears feel a bit hot. You start wondering if perhaps he is running a fever.

There are various myths that are still challenging to get rid of, where a cat's nose would be an indicator of a fever. The myth says that a healthy cat has a wet, cold nose and a sick cat on the other hand, has a dry, warm nose. Truth is a nose is not an proper indicator of a cat's temperature. Rather, the best indicator of a cat's temperature is in the cat's total opposite side: the cat's rectum.

Be aware that cats understandably are not really fond of having their rectal temperature taken so be prepared. You may need assistance from a friend to accomplish this. In order to take your cat's temperature efficiently you will need the following:

A digital or mercury thermometer

Petroleum jelly or K-Y jelly

A towel

Wrap the cat in a towel and put the cat on a table leaving only the tail exposed. Have a helper hold the cat in place.

Lubricate the thermometer with either petroleum jelly or K.Y. jelly.

If you are using a mercury thermometer do not forget to flick it so the mercury goes below 94 degrees. Lift the cat's tail and gently insert the thermometer only for about one inch.

If you using a mercury thermometer hold in place for 2 minutes, if you are using a digital thermometer wait until it beeps. Don't forget to offer a treat if your cat still has a good appetite. If this whole procedure seemed too complicated you will feel delighted in learning that it gets easier with practice. Lately some new ear thermometers specifically made for pets are on the market. These thermometers can be costly and the readings require to follow a special method.

*A cat's normal rectal temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5.

Have you cat seen promptly should the rectal temperature record a reading lower than above or higher than above. Never give your cat aspirin to lower a fever as it is very toxic and can turn deadly as well. Supportive care may lower a slightly high fever, however, a fever needs investigated to inquire about the underlying cause. Have your cat seen as well should you notice any abscesses, unusual lumps, an increase in urination, sneezing, or general lethargy and lack of appetite.


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