How fast or slow should a cat’s heart beat? The heart rate is an important vital for all animals, specifically those that are known to have cardiac conditions. You may need to measure your pet’s heart rate at home under the guidance of your veterinarian on a regular basis to make sure that your cat does not require immediate veterinary assistance.
Read on to find out more about what a cat’s heart rate can tell you, what other symptoms tachycardia and bradycardia might be associated with, and what drugs are currently used to treat heart disease in this species.
What is the normal heart rate for cats?
The heart rate range that cats are supposed to have when they are completely at rest is 80 to 160 beats per minute. The average stands at 120, so that is the number of BPM that you can expect from your pet when you measure their heart rate at home.
Whenever cats are taken to the animal hospital or are put in another stressful situation, their heart rate can increase to 200 or even 220 in a physiological manner.
What causes a cat’s heart to beat faster?
Rapid heart beating can be defined as any number that goes beyond 160 beats per minute. As previously mentioned, there could be normal factors that cause this, such as stress and anxiety or even the cat’s age (kittens’ hearts tend to beat a little faster). In young cats, a heart rate of 200 to 260 beats per minute can most of the time be no reason for concern.
Generally, if an adult cat’s heart beats at over 200/220 beats per minute and they are exhibiting other symptoms, too, pet owners should seek out veterinary assistance immediately.
Other clinical signs of a rapid heart rate in cats are listed below:
- Respiratory distress (coughing, choking, wheezing)
- Decreased or absence of tolerance for any type of physical activity
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal or chest pain
- Lack of appetite for food or water
A rapid heart rate can be caused by a number of various factors, such as actual heart conditions (myocarditis, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia caused by severe electrolyte imbalances), or generalized diseases such as poisoning, pancreatitis, cancer, metabolic disease, hypothyroidism, a trauma that leads to shock, or fever.
What causes a cat’s heart to beat slower?
If a cat’s heart rate is lower than 80 beats per minute, they need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Bradycardia also has multiple causes, such as heart disease, trauma to the head, increased potassium levels, intoxication with certain substances such as insecticides or alcohol, and more.
Some of the other symptoms that are noticeable in this case are the following:
Bradycardia tends to affect cats less than it does their canine counterparts, even in situations such as when they become hypothermic. Cats can have a slower heart rate when they are intubated or sedated or when they have undiagnosed diseases such as breathing complications, neurologic conditions, or kidney failure.
How to measure your cat’s heart rate at home
Even though the most accurate way of measuring a cat’s heart rate is by using a stethoscope, since you might not own one at all, you can at least attempt to get a somewhat correct measurement indirectly.
When your cat is resting on one side, place your hand on their thorax and measure the number of beats that you can feel per 15 or 30 seconds. Multiply that number by 4 or 2 to find out the heart rate for a full minute.
Another location you can use for the same purpose is on the cat’s left side, behind the front leg. In this way, you’ll be measuring the pulse without them even realizing what you are doing.
At the veterinary clinic, vets use a stethoscope to measure a cat’s heart rate, but this can sometimes be complicated by the patient’s purring. Cats sometimes purr when they’re brought to the vet so as to soothe their own anxiety – making the physical diagnosis of respiratory and cardiac conditions a little difficult.
How are heart conditions diagnosed in cats?
Whether your cat has a primary heart condition ( the heart rate isn’t, in fact, influenced by other diseases affecting other organs or their system in general) or not, the veterinarian will recommend an EKG and an ultrasound exam.
These two diagnostic tests are used to establish that the cardiac muscles are functioning normally, that there are no abnormalities in terms of electrical conduction, or that there is no damage produced to the heart walls or valves.
A Holter monitor placed for a period of 24 hours can be utilized in cats, too, although it can sometimes be challenging to prevent them from removing the device or the electrode patches.
How can feline heart disease be treated?
The most common medications for treating heart conditions in cats are listed below:
- ACE inhibitors
- Vetmedin (pimobendan)
Two nutritional supplements, taurine and L-carnitine, are thought to have beneficial effects on some patients. However, the actual effectiveness of these supplements is not comparable to the formerly mentioned medications, especially in patients that otherwise have normal levels of both in their bloodstream.
The right type of drug is selected based on the exact heart pathology diagnosed and the specific part of the organ affected.
The heart rate is an important vital to keep an eye on in cats, especially when it comes to patients that have a history of heart complications.
Your veterinarian will show you how to measure your cat’s heart rate and what signs to look out for, but if you notice any of the clinical symptoms that we have mentioned in this article, seek out veterinary assistance as soon as possible.