How To Take A Cat's Temperature

Unlike humans, cats are unfortunately limited to getting their temperature taken rectally. While it's not the most pleasant process for the cat or its human to go through, it's often a necessity and a valuable tool to determine if your cat is feeling ill. Learning how to do this can help your cat to get medical treatment quickly, so read this guide to find out how to do it the easiest way.

How it Works

Cats can have their temperature taken with any standard thermometer that's capable of taking rectal temperatures. If you're not sure if your home one does this, it's a good idea to get a different one. Taking a cat's temperature with an oral thermometer may yield inaccurate results and could cause you to either think that your cat is unhealthy when it's not or alternatively, miss a warning sign that your kitty is sick because your thermometer didn't read their temp accurately.

Most thermometers take temperatures very quickly, so your cat only needs to have the probe inserted for a few seconds at most. However, doing it can be tricky, so plan ahead.


Before you get started, you're going to most likely need an extra person to help you. One person will be responsible for inserting the probe, while the other will keep the cat still and calm.

You'll also need some tools. It's a good idea to buy a second thermometer to keep it separate from your thermometer. This reduces the risk of bacteria transfer from your cat's body to yours.

You should also consider buying thermometer covers. These are thin plastic sheets that envelop the probe so that it doesn't get messy. This will save you a lot of time cleaning up.

Lastly, make sure that you have some petroleum jelly on hand. This will make it easier on your cat to insert the probe.


When you have all your tools ready, it's time to get started. Before you secure your cat, prep the thermometer. Make sure your thermometer is working. If it is, place the probe cover on first. Then, cover the tip of the thermometer in petroleum jelly. An equal coating is best.

Now, have your second person bring in your cat and keep it secure. Lift the cat's tail. Very gently, insert the powered-on thermometer into the rectum. Only the metal tip needs to be inserted. Do not attempt to push the entire thermometer in. If the thermometer starts to calculate the cat's temperature, that's far enough.

Your cat will likely wiggle. Make sure that the other person is holding on tight, and wait until the thermometer beeps. Once it does, pull it out and quickly wipe off your cat with tissue. You can then release them. A normal cat temperature can be as high as 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your thermometer is above this value, get to a vet.

Fevers in cats can be tough to detect without a thermometer. With any luck, you won't need to know how to do this very often, but it can potentially protect your cat's health and life by knowing how when it's necessary. For more information, contact your local animal health services.