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Axillary temperature measurement in cats

Girod M, Vandenheede M, et al. Axillary temperature measurement: a less stressful alternative for hospitalised cats? Vet Rec. 2016 Feb 20;178(8):192.

Many cats object to the taking of temperature via a rectal thermometer. It can cause undue stress and defensive behavior. The aim of this study was to assess if axillary temperature measurement (ATM) could be a reliable and less stressful alternative for these animals. In this prospective study, paired rectal and axillary temperatures were measured in 42 cats, either by a veterinarian or a student. To assess the impact of these procedures on the cat’s stress state, their heart rate was checked and a cat stress score (CSS) was defined and graded from 1 (relaxed) to 5 (terrified).

Rectal temps were found to be about 1.5F warmer than the axillary temperature. ATM failed to detect fever in 19% of the cats, while hypothermia was missed in 25% of the cases. ATM was however less stressful. In conclusion, Rectal temperature measurement should remain the standard method to obtain accurate temperatures in cats. (MK)

See also:
Goic JB, Reineke EL, Drobratz KJ. Comparison of rectal and axillary temperatures in dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 May 15;244(10):1170-5.