What Are Normal Vitals for a Cat

Normal Vitals for a Cat

Cats are extremely good at hiding signs of disease, which means that their pet parents have to pay attention to as many symptoms as they can. Like any other species, cats have a number of vitals that have to be within a normal range in order for the animal’s health or life not to be in danger.

Read on to find out more about what these vitals are and how to check them in the comfort of your own home.

What are cat vitals?

The three main types of vitals that pet guardians need to keep an eye on, whether it’s cats, dogs, or other types of pets, are the following:

But because sometimes these might not be so easy to measure, we could add two others to the list – the capillary refill time and the mucous membrane color. These two can also provide important information as to whether your pet’s body is functioning normally or not.

These vitals are something that your veterinarian also checks when you take your cat to the animal hospital – whether for a check-up or because you are worried that they might be sick.

Normal temperature of cats

When it comes to the body temperature of this species, the normal range that should be expected is 99 to 102.5 degrees F (37.2 to 39.2 degrees Celsius).

The temperature can increase or decrease depending on a number of various factors, such as external ones (sitting in the cold for too long can make a cat develop hyperthermia) or internal ones (infections, trauma, poisoning, and more).

Normal respiratory rate of cats

In a resting state, your pet should take 10-15 to 30-40 breaths per minute. Anything lower than that should be a matter of concern and should convince you to get to the emergency veterinary hospital.

A higher respiratory rate (tachypnea) can occur in low oxygen levels in the blood, asthma, choking, or anemia. A low respiratory rate (bradypnea) can be the result of bleeding, trauma, heart failure, intense pain, or a side effect of some medications.

Normal heart rate of cats

A cat’s heart can beat anything between 110/140 to 180/200 times per minute. This is the resting heart rate, which means that it should be measured when the pet is sleeping or when they have been lazing around for a while.

The more relaxed your pet is, the lower their heart rate will be. This is why it can be quite challenging for vets to determine the exact heart rate of a cat when they are brought to the vet since some can be extremely stressed and experience tachycardia as a result of anxiety.

The heart rate tends to vary depending on age. Kittens’ hearts beat faster, averaging between 220 and 260 beats per minute.

Normal mucous membrane color of cats

Assessing the color of your cat’s mucous membranes can be a little difficult sometimes, especially if your pet is very fluffy, doesn’t like being handled, or they are born with spotted gums or develop lentigo throughout their life.

The normal color should be light pink. While cats’ noses don’t have to be moist all the time, a too dry one could be a sign of fever. The gingiva should also be pink all the time and moist.

Abnormal colors range from white and yellow to blue, red, and chocolate brown. All of these can be signs of disease. Yellow can indicate liver or gallbladder health complications. White or pale mucous membranes can be a sign of anemia, whereas blue membranes can be a sign of intoxication or oxygen depletion.

What is capillary refill time?

The capillary refill time can be defined as the amount of time it takes for the cat’s mucous membrane to regain its normal pink color after you or the veterinarian have applied pressure to an area. Normally, the color should return in about two seconds.

If the CRT is higher than 2 seconds, you should get your cat to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

How to check your cat’s vitals at home

Out of all of these vitals, the respiratory rate is the easiest one to assess. When your cat is sleeping or resting on their side, just count the number of times their chest rises and falls over a period of 30 seconds (and then multiply it by 2) or a whole minute.

The heart rate can be a little more challenging to measure. You can place your hand either inside your cat’s groin so as to feel your pet’s femoral pulse or behind the shoulder blade. You can count the heartbeats per 15 seconds or 30 seconds and multiply to get the number for the whole minute.

To measure your cat’s body temperature, you can use two types of thermometers – an infrared one or a rectal one. While the value provided by the rectal one is more accurate, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to use it on your cat, especially if you need to do the procedure alone, without anyone helping you. Besides, it should be in your cat’s anus for 20-30 seconds or more, depending on the model, which makes everything even more challenging.

The infrared thermometer can be used inside your cat’s ear or as close to their inner ear as possible. If you hold it at a 90-degree angle and make sure you do not insert it too deeply, you can rest assured that you are not damaging your cat’s eardrum. Once it beeps, you have the measurement ready.

Final thoughts

Besides all of these vitals, another one that can be very useful when it comes to cats is blood pressure. Senior cats are more likely to have hypertension, and it can affect a variety of their other organs, especially their kidneys, so ask your vet to check it whenever you go in for a check-up.

The cat breed also has a say when it comes to what vitals need to be checked more often. For instance, Maine Coons and Burmese cats have a higher chance of developing heart disease, so in their case, the heart rate and the respiratory rate should be checked more often.



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