Do you know the normal heart rate for cats? More importantly, do you know why it’s critical to know your cat’s average?
Cats have a set of vital signs–measurements of basic functions like pulse and temperature–just like we humans do. Every individual cat has a baseline set of vitals, and because there is a lot of variation between individuals, you need to know your cat’s unique numbers. That way, when you take your cat in for an annual well visit or if your cat ever does get sick or injured, you’ll have his or her baseline vitals to take with you to the vet. Luckily, you can quickly and easily check your cat’s heart rate at home and establish your cat’s average.
Is My Cat’s Heart Rate Normal?
The normal heart rate for a cat is 140 to 180 beats per minute (bpm) for a normal, healthy, resting cat. But this is only an average. It can vary depending on breed, activity level, stress, and the individual. A typical cat experiencing stress, like a trip to the vet, might have a heart rate up to 220 bpm and it’s still considered average for those circumstances.
Since there is so much variability, instead of relying on 140 to 180 as a broad average range, calculate your own cat’s individual bpm. How? Start measuring!
Establish a baseline heart rate for your cat. Here’s how to quickly check the heart rate of a cat. Repeat the exercise a few times at a normal, resting rate–when your cat is calm and still–and a few times at an active rate–when your cat finishes a 15-minute bout of exercise. The goal is to gather a set of numbers you can average yourself. Because, remember, the average heart rate for cats might not be the average heart rate for your cat.
Grab a notebook or open the notes app on your phone. Track your cat’s heart rate and note alongside the number your cat’s activity level and the date and time. If there is any relevant health data–like your cat is taking medication, recovering from an injury, or experiencing a new symptom–note that, too. Save the notes or tuck the notebook somewhere safe so it’s readily accessible the next time your cat heads to the vet.
What Can Affect a Cat’s Heart Rate?
Once you’ve established a baseline heart rate, it’ll give you the info you need to know when your cat’s heart rate falls above or below average. However, there are normal causes for changes in heart rate. These normal changes should compare to a cat heart rate at rest.
For example, after a vigorous laser-chasing session, your cat’s bpm will naturally go up. Like yours does after a brisk walk or jog, exercise will increase your cat’s heart rate. That’s normal and actually a good thing for long-term cardiovascular health.
Other potential causes for a change in your cat’s heart rate include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
That’s why it’s so important to log your cat’s heart rate. You’ll be able to notice any fluctuations immediately and take the appropriate action. For instance, if you rearrange your living room and cause your cat extra stress, his or her bpm might be higher than usual. But you’ll be clear on the cause. If your cat’s heart rate is higher or lower than usual and you don’t know the cause, read on to see when to worry.
When Should My Cat’s Heart Rate Worry Me?
Some variability in your cat’s heart rate is normal. However, cats are masters at masking injury and illness. It’s part of their genetic code: Our cats’ ancestors needed to hide any injuries or illnesses because those things would have made them more susceptible to predation. So, to avoid getting eaten, they evolved the instinct to hide pain. As all pet parents know, though, that propensity for hiding pain also means it’s much harder to know when your cat needs medical attention.
By now you know the average cat heart rate for your cat specifically. If you suspect your cat is sick or in pain, take several measurements of your cat’s heart rate while you wait to get through to the vet. Track this in your notebook or app so that you can show the comparative data to your vet.
If your cat is otherwise healthy and his or her heart rate is fluctuating but staying within a normal range, monitor the situation. Check your cat’s heart rate periodically to ensure it stays within that safe range. If it falls below 140 or rises above 220, head straight to the vet.
If your cat’s heart rate stays in the normal range but you suspect anything is amiss with your cat, head to the vet. At the first sign of concern, seek medical attention.
Your cat’s heart rate is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. It’s super easy! We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it. All you need to do is take the time to check your cat’s health stats and log them.
Pet health and dog health is an important aspect of helping our cats live long and happy lives. You can start today by counting your cat’s bpm and signing up for Pet Health 5.
Keeping track of our pet’s health helps them live healthier, longer lives. As a loving pet parent, knowing the normal heart rate for cats in your home and being able to monitor them, will give you peace of mind along with the knowledge that your cat is happy and comfortable.
How do you plan to track your cat’s baseline heart rate? Do you use an app or a paper notebook? Have you been able to establish an average heart rate for your cat?
About the Author: Maggie Marton writes about dogs, cats, and kids–and often the intersection of all three–for print and web publications and on her award-winning blog, OhMyDogBlog.com. Maggie co-authored Pet Blogging for Love and Money, a guide to launching and running a profitable pet blog. She lives in the Indianapolis area with a dog, two cats, a tank of fish, two preschoolers, and a patient husband.