Watch out for fever!

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It is very important to monitor your kitty’s body temperature to ensure she is healthy. Let’s see why.

Case file…

Tiger, my tripod feline pal, is usually active, naughty and playful. One day I noticed that he seemed to be in a lot of pain and was finding it difficult to walk or run. I took him immediately to the veterinarian. Tiger’s body temperature was taken and it was 104oF and rising fast. Normal body temperatures in cats range between 100-102.5°F. Immediately, the fever was brought down and Tiger was prescribed some antibiotics. I was also advised to take Tiger’s temperature at different times during the next day. The next day, Tiger’s temperature was 104.5oF and was once again rising. By the time I reached the pet clinic with Tiger, the temperature was above 105oF. Blood tests were done but the results were normal. Over the next three weeks, Tiger was treated with antibiotics to which he responded well and his temperature returned to normal. Tiger continues to be in good health. It is very important to monitor your feline’s body temperature.

What is fever…

A fever (also known as pyrexia) is defined as an abnormally high body temperature which is generated by the body to fight disease. Its purpose is to raise the internal body temperature to levels which will kill bacteria.

Symptoms of fever…

Loss of appetite, lethargy, listlessness, dehydration, shivering, rapid breathing are some of the symptoms of fever.

First aid for fever…

First aid for a cat having high temperature includes using fans and offering cool fresh water to cool the cat. You can also wrap some wet cloth around your cat to temporarily bring down the temperature, but never bathe your cat. You should then take your cat immediately to the veterinarian. If your cat has temperature over 105oF for more than a day or two, it can lead to dehydration, loss of appetite, listlessness, and even brain damage.

Measuring temperature…

Feeling the ears, body or nose is not the accurate way of telling if your cat has fever. The only reliable way to determine if your cat has fever is by taking her temperature. This is done rectally using a thermometer, either digital or mercury. If you are using a mercury thermometer, shake down the mercury to a level below 96ºF (35.6ºC). Lubricate the bulb with a small amount of petroleum or K-Y jelly. Lift your cat’s tail and insert the tip of the thermometer, about one inch, into the rectum. Normal thermometers should be left in there for two minutes. Digital thermometers should be left in until they beep.
You should exercise caution while taking the temperature of your cat. If your cat is not cooperative, seek the help of another person. Your helper can hold the cat while you take the temperature. Also rush your cat to the vet.

When to call a vet…

If the temperature of your cat is above 104°F, you should be concerned and a visit to the veterinarian would be called for. But if the temperature crosses 105oF, it requires immediate attention of the veterinarian.
Besides, very low body temperatures for cats are usually a serious sign and require immediate medical attention.

(Sudhersena is volunteer at the Blue Cross since 1998 and an avid animal lover, owns nine cats and three dogs. She is associated with a number of animal welfare campaigns and programmes)

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