Knowing how to check our cat’s vital signs could literally save their life… If we know how to check them and determine if they are within normal ranges.

There are 3 vitals signs you can easily keep an eye on at home. Your cat’s heart rate (pulse), respirations (breathing), and temperature. Cats are masters as cleverly hiding pain or illness, so being able to calmly check our cat’s vitals can help us evaluate if there is an emergency that requires urgent care.

Checking you cat’s heart rate:

Gently place your hand on the left side of your cat’s chest to feel their heart beat. This is also where you would gently press a stethoscope if one is available. If your cat is comfortable, you can also feel their pulse by lightly touching their inner thigh with your index and middle fingers.

The normal heart rate for an adult cat is between 160-200 beats per minute. For kittens, it’s a little faster at 220-300 beats per minute.

The second vital sign to check for your cat is their respirations.

How to check your cat’s respirations:

You’ll want to check your cat’s breathing rate while they’re at rest. And it’s simple – just watch your cat’s chest rise and fall with each breath – and count how many breaths are taken in one minute.

Normal respirations for an adult cat are between 15-30 breaths per minute. For kittens, it’s about 20-40 breaths per minute.

The last vital sign you can easily check for your cat at home is their temperature.

How to check your cat’s temperature:

First you’ll want to purchase or designate a digital rectal thermometer just for your cat. Prepare for taking your cat’s temperature by turning the thermometer on and applying a safe lubricant (like KY jelly or coconut oil) to the tip. Approach your cat while they are calm, preferably laying down. Some cat are a little wiggly, so you may want a partner to help gently and calmly hold your cat still. Insert the thermometer about 3/4 of an inch into the rectum and wait for it to beep.

The normal temperature range for an adult cat is between 100-102.5°F. Young kittens will have a slightly lower body temp. If a kittens temperature is 97°F or above 102.5°F, please contact your veterinarian.

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