Do you know how to check your cat’s vital signs? Do you know what a cat’s normal temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate are? Since cats are masters at hiding illness, it’s up to cat guardians to look for even subtle changes. Knowing your cat’s normal vital signs will help you determine more easily whether something may be wrong.
Normal body temperature in a healthy cat is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The easiest way to check your cat’s temperature is with an ear thermometer. If you’re going to take your cat’s temperature with a traditional glass thermometer, be sure to lubricate the thermometer with a water-based lubricant, and gently insert it into your cat’s rectum. Don’t insert it further than about an inch. Since a traditional thermometer needs to stay in for at least two minutes (or until it beeps if you’re using a digital one), this is not the easiest thing to do with most cats.
The normal respiratory rate in healthy cats is between 20 and 30 breaths a minute. Simply count the number of breaths for 60 seconds. Alternately, you can also count breaths for 15 seconds and multiply by four, but you’ll get a more accurate reading if you time it for the full minute, since the normal breathing rate is so slow.
The normal heart rate for a healthy cat is bewteen 140 and 220 beats per minute. A relaxed cat’s heart rate will be on the low end of the range. Feel your cat’s heartbeat with one hand over his left side, just behind his front leg. Count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply by four.
It’s a good idea to practice taking your cat’s vitals when she is relaxed. This way, you’ll know what to do if you’re concerned. Contact your veterinarian if any of the values are outside of the normal range.