What Are a Cat's Vital Signs? Learn How to Measure Pulse and Respiratory Rate Correctly

What Are a Cat's Vital Signs? Learn How to Measure Pulse and Respiratory Rate Correctly

To understand the health status of a cat that cannot speak, the owner needs to carefully interpret the signs emitted by the cat's body. Among them, "vital signs" can be expressed as numerical values and are crucial for understanding the cat's health.

In addition to vital signs, observing the cat's behavior, diet, and excretion can also provide insights into its health status.

In this article, we will discuss how to measure vital signs and methods to check the health status.

 

Table of Contents

1. What Are Vital Signs
2. Normal Values and Measurement of Vital Signs
∟ 2-1. How to Measure Temperature
∟ 2-2. How to Measure Respiratory Rate
∟ 2-3. How to Measure Heart Rate
∟ 2-4. How to Measure Blood Pressure
3. Other Checkpoints
∟ 3-1. Weight and Body Shape
∟ 3-2. Amount of Food and Water
∟ 3-3. Feces and Urine
∟ 3-4. Level of Consciousness
Summary

 

1. What Are Vital Signs

Vital signs refer to indicators that show signs of life, known as "生命兆候" in Japanese. Vital signs include "body temperature," "respiration," "pulse (heart rate)," and "blood pressure" as the four basic items, and measuring these values helps understand the health status.

 

2. Normal Values and Measurement of Vital Signs

Understanding the normal values of vital signs and measuring them accurately makes it easier to notice any health issues in your beloved cat. Also, when visiting the veterinary clinic, reporting abnormal vital signs can facilitate smooth communication.

Here is a detailed introduction to measuring a cat's vital signs.


 

2-1. How to Measure Temperature

The average body temperature of an adult cat is around 37.2 to 39.2 degrees Celsius. For kittens, the temperature is in the late 38s, and senior cats tend to have slightly lower temperatures.

If you want to measure temperature quickly, touch the cat's ear. It's similar to humans measuring heat by placing a hand on the forehead. Regularly touching the ear and understanding the temperature when the cat is healthy is beneficial. Touch it when the cat is awake as it may have a warm ear when sleepy even if healthy.

For accurate measurement, use a thermometer. There are two types of thermometers for cats: rectal thermometers and ear thermometers. Rectal thermometers provide precise measurements but can be a bit challenging to use. Additionally, preparation with olive oil or vaseline for the thermometer, or using a cover (probe cover) when sharing it with other cats or people, can be cumbersome. For home use, an ear thermometer is more suitable.


 

2-2. How to Measure Respiratory Rate

The resting respiratory rate for an adult cat is around 20-25 breaths per minute, and for kittens, it's slightly higher. The respiratory rate can be measured by observing the rise and fall of the chest while the cat is at rest.

Count the number of breaths for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to calculate the respiratory rate per minute. Be cautious when observing as the cat may change its breathing pattern if it feels your gaze.

It's essential to measure the respiratory rate when the cat is calm and at rest. Additionally, it's crucial to understand the normal respiratory rate for your specific cat, as it can vary between individuals.


 

2-3. How to Measure Heart Rate

The average heart rate for an adult cat is around 140-220 beats per minute, and for kittens, it's higher. You can measure the heart rate by feeling the pulse on the inner side of the cat's thigh, near the groin. Use your index and middle fingers to locate the pulse, and count the beats for 15 seconds. Multiply the count by 4 to get the heart rate per minute.

It's essential to measure the heart rate when the cat is calm and at rest. Be gentle when feeling the pulse to avoid causing stress to the cat.


 

2-4. How to Measure Blood Pressure

Measuring blood pressure in cats usually requires specialized equipment and is commonly done at veterinary clinics. High blood pressure can be a sign of underlying health issues, so if your cat is diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's essential to investigate the underlying cause.

Regular checkups at the veterinary clinic can help monitor your cat's blood pressure and detect any abnormalities early on.


 

3. Other Checkpoints

 

3-1. Weight and Body Shape

Regularly monitor your cat's weight and body shape. Sudden changes in weight or body shape can indicate health issues, such as obesity or underlying medical conditions.

Use a reliable scale to measure your cat's weight regularly. If you notice any significant changes, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation.


 

3-2. Amount of Food and Water

Monitor your cat's eating and drinking habits. Changes in appetite or water intake can be early signs of health problems. If your cat suddenly loses interest in food or water, it's essential to investigate the cause.

Consult your veterinarian if you observe any significant changes in your cat's eating or drinking behavior.


 

3-3. Feces and Urine

Pay attention to your cat's litter box habits. Changes in the color, consistency, or frequency of feces and urine can indicate digestive or urinary issues.

If you notice any abnormalities, consult your veterinarian for guidance. Regular veterinary checkups can also help detect and address these issues early on.


 

3-4. Level of Consciousness

Observe your cat's level of consciousness and behavior. Changes in behavior, disorientation, or lethargy can be signs of underlying health problems.

If you notice any unusual behavior, consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination.


 

Summary

Regularly monitoring your cat's vital signs and overall well-being is crucial for maintaining their health. Understanding the normal values of vital signs and being aware of any changes can help you detect potential health issues early on.

If you ever have concerns about your cat's health or notice any unusual symptoms, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian. Early detection and intervention can significantly improve the outcome of many health conditions.

 

Back to blog