Many health problems or diseases can result in your cat running a temperature. If you suspect your cat is not feeling well, the first thing you should do is take its temperature to determine if it is running a fever. Learning how to take your cat’s temperature properly can help determine if immediate veterinary care is needed.
The cat’s normal rectal temperature is between 100.5 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.2 – 39.2 Celsius.
Gathering Your Supplies
Before taking your cat’s temperature, gather the supplies you will need including:
- Human Rectal Thermometer
- Paper Towel
- Cat Treat
We highly recommend using a digital thermometer rather than using the old-fashioned a glass/mercury thermometer. The glass thermometer is more difficult to read accurately and will shatter if dropped. Digital thermometers are easy to read accurately, will not break if dropped and give an audible signal to indicate when the temperature can be read. There is even a style with a flexible tip that makes it more comfortable should your cat makes a sudden movement while the thermometer is inserted. Digital thermometers are available at any drugstore.
It is a myth that you can tell if a cat has a temperature by feeling its nose. In fact, a cat’s nose will often feel warm or dry on a perfectly healthy cat, especially when it is asleep.
Similarly, you cannot accurately tell a cat’s temperature by feeling its ear. While, a cat with a significant temperature may have ears that feel warm, a cat with a slight temperature will have ears that feel normal. The most accurate way to take a cat’s temperature is by using a rectal thermometer.
To start, turn the digital thermometer on.
You will need a lubricant such as petroleum or KY Jelly.
Place the tip of the thermometer in a dab of the lubricant.
A single person can both hold the cat and take its temperature at the same time. Simply restrain the cat by hugging it to the body with the elbow, tail facing forward. One hand holds the tail while the other inserts the thermometer. If the cat is difficult to handle, try wrapping it in a towel, leaving the tail area exposed.
Some owners find it easier to have two people take the temperature; one to restrain the cat while the second hold the tail and inserts and reads the thermometer.
To take the temperature, first lift the cat’s tail straight up. Don’t pull the tail up too hard or too tight as it will be uncomfortable and the cat will resist.
If it is a long-haired cat, smooth the hair away from the anus just under the tail so you have a good view of the “target”.
Next, gently insert the tip of the thermometer into the anus about one inch. The anus muscles may tighten as you first insert the thermometer. Gently rotate the thermometer tip back and forth and the cat will usually relax to permit the thermometer to go in easily. Never force or push too hard.
Once the thermometer is in position, wait until the it “beeps” indicating the temperature is ready to be read.
Remove the thermometer, wipe the tip with a paper towel and alcohol, then read the temperature. Here the thermometer reads in Celsius. Or it can read in Fahrenheit.
Give your cat a treat so that the experience ends pleasantly.