Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys
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 between 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.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.
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Coming over from Summer Samba. TW used to take Chizzy’s temperature with a thermometer under his arm pit cos that’s where a vet tech friend of her’s told her to do. Great info on the heart and breathing rates.
Thank you for this excellent info. The only value I knew about was temperature. Now I am armed with additional info that can help me take good care of my cats.
We did not know all this, and just read Summer’s blog which referred us here. What a great post. Will book mark this one. Thank you for posting.
This is great to see all in one place. I knew about respiratory rate (Newton’s has been unusually high all of his life and I keep an eye on it), but I wasn’t aware of being able to check heart rate so easily at home.
Would you believe we didn’t know there was an ear thermometer for pets?! This might just be a game changer for Katie who is not a fan of the ‘Where’s the Thermometer’ game at the vet clinic. ; )
And we didn’t know how easy it is to check vitals…thanks for a great post and how-to.
I’m glad this post was helpful – especially if it makes Katie’s vet visits easier!
I’m so glad that you posted this with a link to an ear thermometer!!!! I’ll will look into getting one of those!
Thank you for the good reminder to take our cat’s vital signs regularly. It can definitely help us determine when a kitty is not feeling well. I will share this with my Facebook friends.