Have you ever wondered, “What is the normal heart rate of a cat?” In a healthy adult, the average cat heart rate is 140-220 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the cat’s breed, size, and activity level.
This may just seem like a fun trivia fact, but the truth is, being aware of your own cat’s heart rate gives you an inside look into their health and well-being. Knowing what’s normal for them can help you identify when and if there is a problem. Thankfully it is quite easy to check the heart rate of a cat at home too!
The Importance of Your Cat’s Heart Rate
As any cat parent knows, cats are masters at hiding if something is wrong or if they are feeling unwell. By the time we humans notice something obvious, our cat is usually quite sick.
Being aware of your cat’s vital signs, including their heart rate, is an easy way to stay on top of your cat’s health. You will be familiar with what is normal for them and establish that baseline. Having that information will then make it easier to tell if something is wrong, and you might even catch a problem early before it gets too serious.
For example, if you know your cat’s average resting heart rate is normally around 150 bpm, but your last checks have been registering around 175 bpm, you’ll know something isn’t quite right, even though 175 bpm is technically within the normal range.
If you notice your cat’s heart rate is elevated, that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. There are normal reasons a cat heart rate could be higher – for example, if they’ve been playing, if they’re excited, or if they’re scared or anxious for some reason.
However, an elevated heart rate can also be a sign of the following health issues:
- Fever/Higher than normal body temperatures
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic lung disease
- Fluid in the chest
- Low oxygen levels/hypoxia
- Pulmonary blood clot
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced blood volume
Having a lower-than-normal heart rate can also be a cause for concern. Lower heart rates can be a symptom of things like hypothermia, oversedation, and other underlying diseases.
How to Check Your Cat’s Heart Rate
Knowing how to check cat heart rate is a valuable skill for any cat parent. Though it may seem like a job for a veterinarian, the good news is that it’s quite easy to do yourself at home! All you need is a clock or watch with a second-hand, a stopwatch, or your phone’s stopwatch feature.
Before checking your cat’s resting heart rate, make sure they haven’t been active for the last 30 minutes or so. To find your cat’s heartbeat, place your hand on the left side of their chest just behind their front leg. If you press gently, your cat will likely think you’re just petting them and not get alarmed or stressed.
With your hand in place, count how many beats you feel for 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by 4. That will give you the total number of beats per minute.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your cat’s active heart rate, in addition to the resting one. To do this, have a play session with your cat for about 10-15 minutes to get their heart rate up. Then immediately check their heart rate in the same way as described above.
Be sure to record your cat’s heart rate checks in a notebook or app. This practice will give you a history you can look back on so you can more easily notice any changes or trends. You can also bring it with you to your cat’s vet appointments so they can get a full picture of your cat’s history. Some cats experience a higher heart rate at the vet’s office due to stress, so this information can help distinguish between stress and an actual problem.
When to Seek Help for My Cat’s Heart Rate
As mentioned, there are several reasons the heart rate of a cat could be elevated that are perfectly normal. However, if you notice that your cat’s resting heart rate is high on a regular basis, or the heart rate has an abnormal rhythm, you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian.
You should also contact your vet if your cat’s elevated heart rate is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Weakness or lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Increased urination
- Excessive thirst
- Nervous behavior
- Sudden aggressive behavior
- Shallow breathing
- Unkempt coat
- Pale mucous membranes
- Intolerance to activity
Keep in mind that monitoring your cat’s vitals, such as their heart rate, is not meant to be a replacement for visiting their veterinarian for regular wellness visits. Establishing a baseline for your cat’s heart rate and other vitals is just one way you can know your cat better and be able to recognize any issues earlier and more quickly. Plus, it’s another way you can bond with your cat and connect with them on a deeper level.
Have you ever checked the heart rate of a cat before?
Cat heart rate is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 monthly reminder and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it, and you take the time to check your cat’s health stats and log them.
Pet health, cat health, is an important aspect of helping our cats live long lives. You can start today by checking your cat’s heart rate and signing up for Pet Health 5.
About the Author: Emily is “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders. She has been writing in the pet industry for over 8 years, with a focus on cats, rescue, and adventuring. When she isn’t writing, playing music, crocheting, or working on her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Follow her on her blog, KittyCatGo.