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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

fever in cats

Having to deal with foster-kitten Misty's fever made me research on fevers in cats, their symptoms and causes.

Symptoms of fever are elevated body temperature, shivering, shortness of breath. Your cat will feel warm to the touch, and you can also take her temperature with a simple clinical thermometer (at Angels Aswat uses the digital kind used by kids for school), lubricate it with KY and then, with some help in holding the cat down, take the cat's renal temperature by inserting the thermometer into the anus. It will be uncomfortable for the cat but it will not hurt her. It should be 38 to 39 degrees Celsius.

To treat the fever at home, cool the cat down with a fan but do not bathe the cat. Today the vet also gave me advice on using icepack to cool the cat down - a simple towel wrapped over icecubes will suffice. Feed rehydration fluids, cooled. Bring the cat to the vet because the fever may be viral.

Causes of fever is usually viral, so the vet will prescribe some antibiotics if heatstroke is ruled out. In a lot of cases, especially for the very young and very old cats, the cat will be advised to take blood tests, which includes a liver/kidney function test and a red/white blood cell count test to help determine if the fever is due to FIP.

FIP is a virus that has mutated from the more prevalent FECV, the main symptom of which is diarrhoea. In most cats, this mutation will not occur, in fact most go on to develop an immunity to it when they reach adulthood. The mutation of FECV to FIP is quite rare, from what I read. Many cats are carriers of FECV and show no clinical symptoms of it and go on to live well. If I am not wrong, FIP vaccines are not available in Singapore, and FIP is incurable. Fever is just one of the symptoms of FIP.

For Misty's case, her siblings and pen mates are all fine, healthy, active and eating well. For the past few days Misty has become more and more lethargic, prefers to sleep more than play, and while she is still active, prefers to camp in one spot instead of climb like crazy as most kittens do. She also hasn't been eating as much as a greedy kitten should.

Doctor asked about whether she had diarrhoea (another symptom of FIP), but Misty's poo is firm - she shat on me while waiting outside the clinic for it to open so the evidence is nice and 'fresh'. Upon taking her temperature - an ordeal which Misty really didn't like, she bit me so hard while Doctor was taking her temperature. Her temperature was very high. She also said Misty was dehydrated, which I realised too, and this was despite having fed her cool rehydration fluids at home. The doctor then gave her two jabs, one antibiotic the other to bring her fever down, and also administered a subcutaneous (under the skin) rehydration injection. It was the next alternative to putting her on IV drip for one day, something me and the doctor felt Misty wouldn't be able to endure - to sit still for one day? Misty said no!

For the past few days I have been cooling Misty with feeding her cool fluids via syringe and with fans and aircon. Now, she also has an ice-pack. She hates it because I need to isolate her to surround her with the ice-pack and she doesn't want to be alone -


She is already doing better. I let her out in between cooling her with the ice-pack and she is now playing with our cats' cardboard box 'toy' and just ate and drank water on her own. She will be taking another antibiotic tomorrow, orally, and by Friday if she doesn't improve we definitely have to consider find a way to get her blood tests done - had to skip the testing at the vet because we don't have the funds to do the tests today.



Update Thursday April 22: Misty's fever has subsided! She is on a course of oral antibiotics for the next eight days and we will be feeding her rehydration fluid (water with glucose and salt) and vitamins to keep her body strong. She will not be needing to go for blood tests tomorrow unless her fever returns.

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