The normal cat pulse for an adult cat runs at a rate of 140 to 240 beats per minute. However, a resting cat might have a pulse rate of 80. The pulse is the number of times the heart beats in a minute. The pulse is a “transmitted heartbeat”2.
The human pulse runs at 72 beats per minute for an adult at rest1. Heavy exercise raises it to variable higher levels such as 140 beat per minute.
How to check a cat’s pulse rate?
It is “easily detected”2 by feeling the femoral artery – an artery that runs down the inside of the hind legs.
It can be checked when the cat is standing or lying on his or her back.
You feel along the inside of the thigh at the point where the leg and body meet. The finger should be pressed against the leg to locate the pulse.
Checking for a normal cat pulse can also be carried out by feeling for the pulse while pressing against the rib cage over the heart. While the cat is standing “feel behind the elbow”2.
Diseased or enlarged hearts may produce a buzzing or vibration over the chest wall.
The pulse should be strong and steady.
Slow pulse: indicates, heart disease, pressure on the brain or “an advanced morbid condition causing collapse of the circulation”2.
Fast pulse; indicates, excitement, high activity, infection, heat stroke, heart disease, fever, anemia, blood loss, dehydration or shock.
Irregular pulse: indicates an arrhythmia. This is an abnormal heart rhythm.
2. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook