Capillary Refill Time in Cats

What is capillary refill time?

Capillaries are tiny blood vessels are which are close to the surface of the skin. It is the capillaries that give the skin its pink colour.

Capillary refill time (CRT) is a simple method to determine the amount of blood flow to the tissue.

How do I check the capillary refill time on my cat?

The best place to check the capillary refill time is on your cat’s gums.

  • Lift the cat’s upper lip and press the flat of your finger against the gum tissue
  • Remove the pressure and you will see a white mark on the gum where your finger was placed
  • Time how long it takes for the pink colour to return to the white spot
  • In a healthy cat, it should take around 1 – 2 seconds to return to pink

What is the normal capillary refill time in cats?

  • 1 to 2 seconds is normal.
  • 2 to 4 seconds is moderate to poor.
  • > more than 4 seconds is an emergency.
  • < less than 1 second is an emergency.

Will checking the capillary refill time cause discomfort to my cat?

No, it is not uncomfortable at all.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia