How Do You Break A Fever In A Cat?


Fever in cats is defined as a body temperature above 102.5°F (39.2°C). A slight fever may not be cause for alarm, but high fevers over 104°F can be dangerous if left untreated. Fevers are the body’s natural response to infection or inflammation, but excessively high fevers put cats at risk of brain and organ damage. High fevers can also cause seizures, especially in kittens. Therefore, bringing down a high fever quickly is important.

Fevers in cats should never be ignored. It’s important to identify the cause and treat appropriately. In many cases, fever reflects an underlying infection that requires prescription medication from your veterinarian. With prompt care, most fevers can be managed at home. However, a fever that persists over 104°F or is unresponsive to home treatment warrants an immediate vet visit as it could indicate a serious illness.

Identifying a Fever

The normal body temperature range for cats is between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38.1°C and 39.2°C). Any temperature above 102.5°F is considered a fever (VCA, Taking Your Pet’s Temperature). A temperature of 103.5°F or higher is considered a high fever and requires prompt medical attention (VCA, Fever of Unknown Origin in Cats).

The most accurate way to take a cat’s temperature is rectally using a digital thermometer. Gently insert the tip about 1 inch into the rectum, wait for the thermometer to beep, and read the temperature. This should give you an accurate reading of your cat’s core body temperature.

Signs of fever without taking a cat’s temperature include lethargy, shivering, loss of appetite, and warm and dry nose and ears. However, these signs alone aren’t definitive for fever.

Causes of Fever

Some common causes of fever in cats include:

Viral Infections – Viral diseases like feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) can often cause fever in cats (Source 1). FIP in particular was found to result in fever in over half of diagnosed cats in one study (Source 3).

Bacterial Infections – Bacterial diseases such as upper respiratory infections and abscesses can also lead to fever. Cats with weakened immune systems are more prone to these types of infections.

Parasites – Parasites like ticks and heartworms can cause inflammation that leads to fever in cats.

Environment – Exposure to toxins, chemicals, or extreme heat can also cause fever in cats.

Dangers of High Fevers

High fevers in cats can be dangerous if not treated properly. According to WebMD, temperatures over 104°F put cats at risk of complications from the fever itself1. Sustained high fevers increase respiration and heart rate, which can tax the body’s systems. Dehydration commonly occurs with fever, as the cat loses more fluids through increased breathing and drooling. If dehydration becomes severe, it can negatively impact organ function.

According to VCA Hospitals, dangerously high fevers (above 106°F) also put cats at risk of brain and organ damage2. At these temperatures, seizures may occur. Sustained fever can also lead to protein and electrolyte imbalances. In some cases, blood clots can form. Overall, prolonged high fevers threaten cat health and should be addressed quickly.

Lowering a cat’s fever mitigates these risks. Bringing the body temperature back to a normal range allows organs to function properly and prevents the cascade of complications associated with uncontrolled fevers. Prompt fever reduction is critical, but should be done safely under veterinary guidance.

Reducing Environmental Temperature

Bringing down your cat’s fever often starts with cooling down their environment. Since cats cannot sweat like humans, they rely on their environment to help regulate their body temperature. If the ambient temperature is high, it can be difficult for a feverish cat to get relief.

The ideal temperature range for a healthy cat is 75-86°F. For a cat with a fever, aim for the low end or even lower. Turn on air conditioning or point a fan directly at your cat to increase air circulation. Be sure to monitor your cat closely to make sure they don’t get too cold.

You can also place ice packs or frozen water bottles wrapped in towels in your cat’s favorite resting spots. Just be sure your cat moves away if they get too cold. Avoid any direct contact between your cat and ice to prevent tissue damage.

Creating a cooler environment will help bring down your cat’s fever and support their recovery. Just remember to keep a close eye on them and adjust the temperature if they appear uncomfortable. Reducing ambient heat is an effective first step in treating a feverish cat.

Wetting the Cat’s Paws

One way to help bring down a fever in cats is by wetting their paws. This can help dissipate heat from their body and lower their temperature. The paw pads have sweat glands that allow cats to release heat. By wetting the paws with a damp cloth or cotton ball dipped in cool (not cold) water, the moisture applied can activate these sweat glands and the evaporation effect helps cool the body down.

Wetting the paws can provide relief when a cat is overheated from a fever. The moisture encourages sweating through the paws which pulls heat away from the body core. As the water evaporates, it takes excess warmth with it and cools the cat. This is an easy and safe method that can be done at home to provide some comfort when waiting to get into the vet or along with other treatment measures.

Some tips when wetting a cat’s paws to reduce fever:

  • Use lukewarm water, not cold
  • Gently pat or dab paws dry after so they don’t stay wet
  • Keep the cat in a comfortably cool area while paws are wet
  • Reapply water every few hours as needed

While wetting paws can help, it should not replace veterinary treatment for fevers. It provides a way to temporarily bring down temperature while determining the underlying cause and next steps. But wetting paws alone may not resolve a fever, so contact your vet if your cat has an elevated temperature.


Dehydration is a major concern in cats with fevers, so maintaining proper hydration is essential. Make sure your cat always has access to fresh, clean water. You can encourage drinking by using flavored waters or low-sodium chicken/beef broths. Fountains with flowing water can also entice cats to drink more. If your cat is refusing water or becoming dehydrated, your vet may recommend administering subcutaneous fluids at home. This involves injecting fluids under the skin to provide hydration support. According to Matthews Veterinary Clinic, “Kitty is going to need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, so continue to ensure that your cat has easy access to fresh water.”

Some home remedies like unflavored Pedialyte can help restore electrolyte balance and prevent dehydration when administered carefully and under veterinary guidance. However, severely dehydrated cats may need more intensive fluid therapy administered by a vet.


Certain over-the-counter medications can help reduce fever in cats, but it’s important to consult your veterinarian before giving any medication.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam can help relieve fever by reducing inflammation. However, some OTC human medications like acetaminophen can be toxic to cats. Only give your cat medications that are formulated and dosed specifically for cats.

Your vet may prescribe fever reducers like meloxicam or recommend an appropriate OTC medication. Follow your vet’s dosage instructions carefully. Never give your cat medication made for humans. Monitoring your cat and contacting the vet if the fever persists is also important.

While some OTC fever reducers may provide relief, caution is required. It’s best to consult your vet before giving any medication to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for your cat.

Emergency Vet Care

A fever in cats that persists or continues to rise above 104°F can be dangerous and require emergency veterinary care. According to, if the fever persists for more than 24 hours or exceeds 106°F, you should take your cat to the vet immediately or visit an emergency clinic. A fever this high puts your cat at risk of brain and organ damage.

Other signs that warrant an immediate vet visit include lethargy, refusal to eat or drink, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, seizures, and unresponsiveness. According to WebMD, immediate treatment is essential for fevers above 106°F to prevent potential brain or organ damage. The vet will work to rapidly bring your cat’s temperature down and address any underlying infection or illness causing the fever.

Depending on your cat’s symptoms and temperature, the vet may administer IV fluids for hydration, injectable medication to reduce fever, oxygen therapy if breathing is compromised, or other supportive care. They will also run diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the high fever. Prompt vet care can prevent long-term effects and save your cat’s life in cases of dangerously high fever.

Preventing Fevers

The best way to prevent fevers in cats is through vaccination. Vaccines help a cat’s immune system fight off infections that could potentially cause fevers. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, core vaccines all cats should receive include feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia virus, and rabies [1]. Up-to-date vaccinations are essential to keeping a cat’s immune system strong.

Maintaining a clean home environment also helps prevent bacterial or viral infections in cats. Clean the litter box daily, wash food and water bowls regularly, and disinfect surfaces. Change water frequently and wash hands before and after touching the cat. Use a safe, vet-approved disinfectant and follow label instructions carefully.

Reducing stress is another way to avoid weakening a cat’s immune defenses. Provide a comfortable, stimulating environment with vertical territory, places to hide, and interactive toys. Limit changes in diet or routine when possible and give your cat affection and playtime.

Monitoring your cat’s health daily also allows early detection and treatment of any illness before it can progress to a fever. Go to the vet promptly if you notice any lethargy, appetite changes, sneezing, discharge from the eyes or nose, vomiting, or diarrhea. With preventive care and early intervention, fevers can often be avoided entirely.

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