How To Check the Respiratory Rate of Cats

Checking the respiratory rate of cats is an essential step in determining whether they are healthy. If you want to avoid unnecessary vet visits by checking your cat’s health at home, you must learn how to check the respiratory rate of cats.

This relatively simple procedure can be a bit trickier if your cat becomes easily agitated, but it is possible to check most cats’ respiratory rates without too much trouble. To check the respiratory rate of your cats, all you need is a watch with a second hand or a stopwatch. You may also need a tissue or a mirror.

  1. Practice when your cat is healthy. If you don’t know your cat’s normal respiratory rate, you won’t be able to tell what is abnormal. Plus, this practice can make the procedure go much more smoothly when you’re actually trying to figure out whether your cat is sick.
  2. Approach your pet calmly. If a cat is agitated its respiratory rate will go up, so you won’t get an accurate reading. Plus, it will become much harder to make your cat sit still at all. Instead, wait until he is relaxed and use a calm, quiet voice when talking to him. Your cat should be lying down when you check his respiratory rate. If the cat is not at rest, or has been running around recently, you will get an abnormally high respiratory rate.
  3. Look for signs of respiration. The rising and falling chest is the easiest sign to watch for. If it’s difficult to determine when your cat is inhaling or exhaling, put a tissue by your pet’s nostrils and watch for tissue movement. Another method is to place a small mirror near your cat’s nostrils and to watch for fogging on the mirror.
  4. Count breaths. Count the number of times your cat breathes in 15 seconds. Then multiply by 4 to determine the respiratory rate per minute. Repeat this process several times if you’re not sure that your first calculations were correct.
  5. Contact the vet. Once you’ve checked the respiratory rate of your cat, contact your vet if the rate is abnormal or if you’re not sure. The average respiratory rate of cats is 20 to 30 breaths per minute, though this does vary considerably between individual cats.

Checking your cat’s respiratory rate is one way to tell if he is in distress or sick. If your cat’s respiratory rate is much higher or lower than his normal rate, it may indicate that a vet visit is needed, although there are many reasons why a cat may be breathing faster or slower than normal. Checking the respiratory rate of cats is very easy to do, as long as you approach your cat at the right time.


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