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Just like us humans, do cats shiver or seek warmth when they have a fever?

My 6-yo domestic short-haired cat likes to sit in our hot tropical sun for a long time and I’m worried she may get dehydrated and/or have a heatstroke.

When I try to pull her inside she resists and usually runs away to another corner of the balcony. Her behaviour is quite normal otherwise and she is eating normally, too.

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  • How is the floor or surface the cat lays on temperated? Maybe it is cold and it feels great to lay on a cold floor and get a warm back :) I would assume, that the cat choose the best place. Fever should come together with eating less or nothing and behave very tired. Is your cat showing this? Apr 24 at 19:55
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    The surface floor is also hot as it’s the concrete edge of the balcony that she sits on. She is playing with our other cats but she does sleep quite a lot but she is eating normally. Apr 25 at 3:38
  • I personally wouldn't worry about it as I used to have a orange tabby cat that used to love lying in the sun. The only thing you might want to do is get a bowl of water and put it near your cat so she can drink out of it whenever she wants. Apr 26 at 15:15
  • I only saw one cat having fever. He had infection due to a mistreated wound when he was a stray. He lied like a log for one full day, not even getting up for food or water. I did not notice any shivering, but he was burning, much hotter than a cat regularly is. We dripped some water on his mouth from time to time and he later got adopted.
    – C.Koca
    Apr 26 at 16:08
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While shivering can be a symptom of fever, it’s not always present, so I wouldn’t consider shivering an important indicator. Many lists of fever symptoms in cats don’t include shivering.

A far more telltale sign is an overall sluggishness and low responsiveness, lack of appetite and possibly dry/parched nose and mouth. If you know your cat, you won’t miss it, even in those very old and laidback specimens with the temperament of an old log. If you suspect something is amiss, contact your vet. Without attempting a diagnosis, I would assume she’s just fine, as you write that her behavior is “quite normal”.

Seeking warmth is a very common cat behavior and perfectly normal, even if cats tend to do it to a degree where we humans question that decision. Here the cats’ ancestry shines through. Our cats are descendants of the African wildcat, who’s habitat includes tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and steppes, but also deserts. If a cat feels that their location is too hot, it will seek shade. As long as the cat can freely choose to leave the hot spot and has access to water, you needn’t worry - don’t confuse the hot ears of a cat that’s been sunbathing for a while with the hot ears of a feverish cat. Just observe her behavior and test at a later time.

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