Cat Temperature – Normal Range, Fever & More

Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by Julia Wilson

At a glance

Normal temperature:

Medically known as normothermia or euthermia, is the typical temperature range found in cats is 100 – 102.5°F (37.7 – 39.1°C).

Elevated temperature:

Also called hyperthermia, a fever is an elevation in body temperature which is usually due to an infection.

  • Mild fever – 102.6 – 104°F (39.2 – 40°C)
  • Severe fever – > 104.1°F (40.05°C)

Low temperature:

Also called hypothermia, low body temperature is classed as the following:

  • Mild hypothermia: 95 – 99°F (35 – 37°C)
  • Moderate to severe hypothermia: 90 – 95°F (32 – 35°C)


Normal temperature

A normal temperature in cats ranges between 100 – 102.5°F (37.7 – 39.1°C). When an infection occurs, the body often increases the internal temperature as a way to fight off and kill the infectious organism, this is known as pyrexia.

How do cats regulate their body temperature?

Thermoregulation refers to the control of the body temperature as a result of external factors such as an increase or decrease in temperature. This occurs by:

  • Change in location – Moving to a shady spot if it’s hot, moving to a sheltered spot, or into the sun if it’s cold.
  • Vasoconstriction or vasodilation – Narrowing or widening of the blood vessels to restrict or increase blood flow. Blood carries heat, which is then when it reaches the surface of the skin. So on hot days, the blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the skin, on cold days they constrict to reduce heat loss.
  • Hairs – Hairs stand on end when the temperature falls, this improves the insulating properties of the skin and coat.
  • Shivering – When the temperature drops and the above methods are no longer effective, your cat will shiver. This occurs when muscles begin to shiver slightly in order to produce warmth by expending energy. Shivering can also occur in response to fever.
  • Sweating – This isn’t as important in cats as it is in humans. Cats do sweat a little through their paws.

Causes of high temperature

There are two causes of high temperature in cats.

  • Fever (pyrogenic)
  • Hyperthermia (nonpyrogenic)

Fever (pyrexia): The most common cause of a fever is an infection, other causes include

  • Certain medications
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Vascular disorders

Heatstroke (hyperthermia): Hyperthermia occurs when the external temperature is higher than your cat’s body temperature and he is unable to bring the temperature down by thermoregulation. For example, a cat locked in a car on a warm day is at great risk of developing hyperthermia. This is a life-threatening condition and requires urgent veterinary attention.

Causes of low temperature (hypothermia)

The most common cause of hypothermia is prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, other causes include anorexia, certain medications, blood infection, diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney disease, liver disease, and poor ability to regulate body temperature in very young or very old cats.

Kittens and body temperature

Kittens are unable to regulate their body temperature for the first few weeks of life, therefore, it is important for the pet owner to be aware of this and maintain a steady temperature for them.

How to take a cat’s temperature

To take the temperature with a mercury thermometer you will need:

  1. Mercury thermometer
  2. Petroleum jelly

Have your cat on a firm surface such as a dining table and have your helper hold him by the scruff of the neck so that he can’t run away. Shake the thermometer firmly until it drops to 96°F (35.5C). Lubricate the bulb tip with a little petroleum jelly, lift the base of the tail and gently slide it into your cat’s rectum until half of it is inside. Keep it in for three minutes, withdraw and check the reading. You should seek veterinary attention if your cat’s temperature is under 99°F (37.2°C) or over 104°F (40°C).

How to reduce a fever in a cat

If your cat only has a moderate temperature and seems otherwise well, you can try to reduce it by using fans to cool him off and provide him with plenty of cool fresh water.

Don’t give your cat a bath, this will make the situation worse by trapping the water in the coat, which acts as insulation and do not administer medications such as ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) or acetaminophen (paracetamol/Tylenol) as these common medications are toxic to cats.

Most fevers in cats will require veterinary treatment, which may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, in some cases antibiotics will be prescribed for cats with viral infections to prevent the development of secondary infection.
  • Most viral infections require supportive care while your cat mounts an immune response. This may include fluids and nutritional support.
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation or manage autoimmune disease.
  • Surgery and/or chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancers.

Hyperthermia (heat stroke) treatment

If you suspect your cat has hyperthermia, seek veterinary attention immediately. Do not attempt to treat at home.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia

2 thoughts on “Cat Temperature – Normal Range, Fever & More”

  1. Please help me. I took my cat to he vet as I was informed he had mild renal disease. They advised me on diet but nothing else so I took my cat for a second opinion to another vet who prescribed three m3dications which made my cat ill. After three weeks of adjusting his medications my cat was very ill. I took him to to same vet who told me his temp was 37.7c and that he was approximately 3% dehydrated. He then proceeded to give my cat an IV saline drip. Why would he do this if my cat already had a low temp and was only 3% dehydrated? My cat died during the night. Please help me as I feel this vet performed his duty to my cat wrongly. Thank you.

  2. Please share the name and location of this vet so as the rest of general population have a heads up and a bit of history. I realize some time things take a poor turn, I can’t imagine the pain, or even know how I would react in a similar situation

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