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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Fever of Unknown Origin in Cats

By George M. Barrington, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University ; Jean A. Hall, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University ; Sharon J. Spier, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Professor, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California ; Ivan W. Caple, BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, MRCVS, Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Veterinary Clinical Centre, University of Melbourne ; David L. Evans, BVSc, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney ; Don A. Franco, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Retired President, Center for Biosecurity Food Safety and Public Health ; Katharine F. Lunn, BVMS, MS, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University ; Donald C. Sawyer, DVM, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University

Also see professional content regarding fever of unknown origin.

In both animals and people, fever may indicate infection, inflammation, an immune-mediated disease, or cancer. Determining the cause of a fever requires a history, physical examination, and sometimes laboratory or other diagnostic tests. Often, a fever resolves on its own or in response to antibiotic therapy. However, in a small percentage of animals, the fever continues or keeps coming back and the cause cannot be determined. This is called fever of unknown origin.

In some fever of unknown origin cases, a specific diagnosis cannot be found, or diagnostic testing is discontinued, and different treatments are tried without a diagnosis. Drugs that may be tried include antibiotics, antifungal agents, and anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive therapy. Although trial therapy may improve the signs or confirm a tentative diagnosis, it can also carry significant risk, and careful monitoring is needed (Veterinary.heading on page Fever of Unknown Origin in Dogs).