Normal Health Ranges For Kittens and Cats

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  • A reference for normal ranges in cats and kittens as well as timelines including pregnancy, kitten development, teething, worming, and vaccinations.

    At a glance

    Normal ranges

    Capillary refill time 1 to 2 seconds
    Respiration 20-30 breaths per minute
    Heart rate 130 to 220 beats per minute (adults)

    200-300 beats per minute (kittens)

    Temperature 100 – 102.5°F (37.7 – 39.1°C).
    Blood pressure Systolic – 110 to 160mm/Hg (millimetres of mercury)

    Diastolic – 55 to 100mm/Hg

    Respiration

    This is the number of breaths a cat takes per minute. To evaluate a cat’s respiration, watch the rise and fall of the chest when the cat is relaxed and resting. A cat who has just run two laps around the house is going to have an increased respiration rate, which is completely normal in those
    circumstances.

    Respiration

    Call the vet?

    Normal 20-30 breaths per minute No
    Increased respiration (tachypnea) > 30 breaths per minute Yes
    Decreased respiration (bradypnea) < 20 breaths per minute Yes

     

    Accompanying symptoms:

    • Noisy breathing
    • Lethargy
    • Laboured, open-mouthed breathing
    • Panting
    • Change in gum colour (see below)
    • Sitting position (all four feet on the floor) with head extended and possibly elbows pointing outward
    • Loss of consciousness

    Heart rate

    The heart rate is the speed at which the cat’s heart beats. It is normal for the heart rate (and respiration) to increase during periods of activity or stress.

    To check the cat’s heart rate feel for the femoral artery, which is located close to the surface on the inside of the thigh at the groin. Alternatively, press against the rib cage over the heart. With the cat standing, feel the pulse just behind the elbow. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 to get the total number per minute.

    Heart rate


    Call the vet?

    Normal 130 to 220 beats per minute (adults)

    200-300 beats per minute (kittens)

    No
    Slow heart rate (bradycardia) > 120 beats per minute. Yes
    Elevated heart rate (tachycardia) > 220 beats per minute. Yes

     

    Accompanying symptoms:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Open-mouthed breathing
    • Coughing
    • Reluctance to exercise
    • Lethargy

    Capillary refill time

    Capillary refill time (CRT) is a simple method to determine the amount of blood flow to the tissue. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. It is the capillaries that give the skin its pink colour.

    The best place to check the capillary refill time is on your cat’s gums. To do this, lift your 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. Using a watch with a second hand, time how long it takes for the pink colour to return to the white spot. In the healthy cat, it should take around 1 – 2 seconds to return to pink.

    Capillary refill time

    Call the vet?

    1 to 2 seconds-Normal No
    2 to 4 seconds-Moderate to poor Yes
    > more than 4 seconds-Emergency Yes
    < less than 1 second-Emergency Yes

    Blood pressure

    Blood pressure is the force in which the blood is exerted against the walls of the blood vessels.

    There are two readings from blood pressure tests:

    • Systolic – Is the pressure as the heart contracts
    • Diastolic – Is the pressure as the heart relaxes and fills with blood

    Blood pressure

    Normal Systolic – 110 to 160mm/Hg (millimetres of mercury)

    Diastolic – 55 to 100mm/Hg

    Low Systolic – 90 – 100mm/Hg or lower

    Diastolic – 50mm/Hg or lower

    High Systolic – 160mm/Hg or greater

    Diastolic – 100 – 110mm/Hg

    Temperature

    The cat’s body temperature depends on age, reproductive status, time of day, state of consciousness (temperature drops during sleep), activity level and infection. Thermoregulation is the scientific term for regulating body temperature, which occurs in several ways.

    • Change in location – Moving to a shady spot if it’s hot, moving to a sheltered spot, or into the sun if it’s cold.
    • Vasoconstriction or vasodilation –Narrowing or widening of the blood vessels to restrict or increase blood flow. Blood carries heat, which is then when it reaches the surface of the
      skin. So on hot days, the blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the skin; on cold days they constrict to reduce heat loss.
    • Hairs – Hairs stand on end when the temperature falls; this improves the insulating properties of the skin and coat.
    • Shivering – When the temperature drops and the above methods are no longer effective, your cat will shiver. This occurs when muscles begin to shiver slightly to produce warmth by
      expending energy. Shivering can also occur in response to fever.
    • Sweating – This isn’t as important in cats as it is in humans. Cats do sweat a little through their paws.

    Temperature

    Call the vet?

    Normal temperature 100 – 102.5°F (37.7 – 39.1°C). No
    Fever (pyrexia) Mild fever – 102.6 – 104°F (39.2 – 40°C)

    Severe fever – > 104.1°F (40.05°C)

    Yes

    Yes

     

    Low temperature (hypothermia) Mild hypothermia: 95 – 99°F (35 – 37°C)

    Moderate to severe hypothermia: 90 – 95°F (32 – 35°C)

    Yes

    Yes

     

    Never administer human over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to bring down a fever in cats as they lack the necessary liver enzymes to metabolise the drugs which can prove fatal.

    Heatstroke

    Heatstroke is a condition caused by the body overheating when the normal body mechanisms are unable to maintain the temperature within a safe range. The most common cause of heatstroke is exposure to excess heat. Kittens, seniors and cats with an underlying medical condition are most at risk, although heatstroke can occur in any cat exposed to high temperatures. As expected, heatstroke is far more common in the summer months.

    Temperature

    Call the vet?

    Normal
    temperature
    100 – 102.5°F (37.7 -39.1°C). No
    Heatstroke Mild – 102.6 – 103.9°F (39.2 – 40°C)

    Moderate –104 – 105°F (40 – 40.5°F)

    Severe – > 106°F (40.55°C)

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

     

    Symptoms:

    • Rapid panting
    • Bright red tongue
    • Dark red gums
    • Salivating (drooling)
    • Rapid pulse
    • Weakness
    • Wobbly gait
    • Lethargy
    • Capillary refill time of less than 1 second. To test this, lift the cat’s upper lip and place a finger on the gum applying a small amount of pressure. Remove your finger, and you should see the gum has turned white. Time how long it takes for the area to turn pink again.
    • Vomiting (possibly with blood)
    • Diarrhea (possibly with blood)
    • Nosebleed

    Gum colour

    The colour of the gums can give valuable clues as to the underlying disease your cat may have.

    Gum colour

    What it means

    Call the vet?

    Pink gums Normal No
    Bright red gums Heatstroke or carbon monoxide poisoning Yes
    Pale gums Anemia, blood loss or shock Yes
    Blue gums Lack of oxygen (cyanosis) Yes
    Brown gums Methemoglobinemia (methaemoglobin in the blood) Yes
    Yellow gums Jaundice (liver problems) Yes
    Redness along the gum margins Gingivitis/gum disease Yes

    Pregnancy

    Pregnancy lasts between 63-65 days on average. Most cats are capable of mating, and conceiving from six months of age. Cats will mate with siblings and parents.

    Timeline

    Kitten

    Mother

    0-7 days 20-24 hours after mating, the zygote, consisting of two cells forms. 4 – 6 days after mating, the ball (known as morulae) consists of approximately 30 cells. Around five days after copulation, the morula enters the uterine horn. By ten days, some blastocysts have hatched. There are no visible signs of pregnancy.
    Week 2 (8-14 days) Implantation occurs 12-13 days after ovulation. Palpitation of the uterus is possible as early as day 15, round 1cm swellings within the uterus may be felt by an experienced veterinarian.
    Week 3 (15-21 days) An ultrasound can detect the pregnancy, and the fetal heartbeat is visible. By 21 days the unborn kittens are between 1.2 and 2.5 cm. The fetal heartbeat can be detected around 22 days. The queen’s nipples will become pink and enlarged. This is known as ‘pinking up’. Some cats will develop morning sickness by the third week of pregnancy.
    Week 4 (22-28 days) The embryo is now a fetus. The eyes and limbs are clearly forming; the toes on the forelimbs are starting to separate. Your veterinarian will be able to feel individual fetuses as discrete masses at this stage. By the fourth week of pregnancy, she should have gained enough weight to make her pregnancy visible.
    Week 5 (29-35 days) The fetus is now approximately 58mm long from crown to rump. The limbs continue to grow; the claws and paw pads are now obvious. It will be difficult to feel individual kittens by 35 days. You may notice some behavioural changes in your cat; she may become more affectionate as her pregnancy progresses.
    Week 6 (36-42 days) The bones of the fetuses have mineralised by 40-45 days and can be seen on an x-ray. The ear flaps, tail and genitalia are now obvious. The claws are well developed. The queen is obviously pregnant.
    Week 7 (43-49 days) The hair follicles are beginning to develop. The skin is becoming thicker, and the hair follicles are beginning to sprout hair. By this stage, the queen is quite large and becoming uncomfortable. You should be able to see and feel the kittens moving around at this stage.
    Week 8 (50-56 days) By 56 days, the crown-rump length is 121 mm (4.76 inches). Pigmented hair now covers the body of the unborn kittens. The queen is still growing in size; she will be slowing down now due to discomfort. She may have toileting accidents.
    Week 9 (57-63 days) By 60 days the kitten is approximately 145 mm (5.7 inches) long from crown to rump. The queen may show signs of nesting; her behaviour may change. Some can become quite clingy with their family; others prefer to be alone. She may start to produce milk.

    Kitten development

    Development timeline

    Birth to week 1 Kittens are born with eyes closed and ears folded. They weigh between 90-100 grams. The umbilical cord stump falls off around day three. By the end of the first week, the kitten has doubled its weight.
    Week 2 Eyes begin to open (all young kittens have blue eyes). First baby teeth erupt.
    Week 3 Ears are now erect. Some kittens begin exploring.
    Week 4 Canine teeth (fangs) have erupted. Hearing is well developed.
    Week 5 Eyesight is now fully developed. Kittens begin to try solid food.
    Weeks 6-8 Eye colour begins to change. Kittens are now extremely active. They should receive their first vaccination at six weeks.

    Teeth

    Cats have two sets of teeth, the baby teeth which erupt at two weeks until 6 weeks. These begin to fall out around 11 weeks and are replaced by adult teeth.

    Kitten

    Adult

    26 (deciduous) baby teeth 30 (permanent) adult teeth

    When do the kitten’s teeth erupt?

    Teething timeline

    2 weeks Deciduous (baby) incisors erupt
    3 to 4 weeks Deciduous (baby) canines (fangs) erupt
    4 to 6 weeks Deciduous (baby) pre-molars erupt
    11 weeks Baby teeth start to fall out and are replaced with adult (permanent) teeth
    16 weeks Permanent incisors have erupted
    20 weeks Permanent canines (fangs) have erupted
    24 weeks All permanent premolars have erupted
    6-7 months Permanent molars come in in late kittenhood/early adulthood

    Worming guide

    Kittens become infected with hookworms and roundworms via their mother when they are young kittens. Fleas spread tapeworm; even indoor cats can catch tapeworm.

    Kitten worming schedule

    2 weeks
    4 weeks
    6 weeks
    8 weeks
    12 weeks
    24 weeks
    Every three months from then on

    Not all worming products can be used on very young kittens. Speak to your veterinarian about the most suitable worming product when treating kittens under 6 weeks of age. Panacur, Drontal and Beapar are suitable for two-week-old kittens. We have outlined some of the more popular worming products on our quick guide to cat worming products page.

    Vaccinations

    Vaccinations are a way of preventing disease by introducing a weakened or killed form of the disease-causing organism. This stimulates an immune response which helps prevent the animal (or human) developing the full-blown disease should it be exposed to the pathogen in the future.

    Core vaccines

    The most common vaccination in the cat is known as F3 or FCRVP; this is commonly referred to as F3 and is a core vaccine. This vaccine covers the following:

    Maternally derived antibodies (MDA) can affect the effectiveness of vaccines, which is why your kitten will require a series of THREE shots instead of just the one. Vaccinations in kittens should commence at 8 weeks of age. The guideline below is for the F3 (FCRVP) vaccine only.

    Kitten vaccination schedule

    F3 (1st shot) 8 weeks
    F3 (2nd shot) 12 weeks
    F3 (3rd shot) 16 weeks
    F3 (booster shot) 12 months
    F3 (booster shot) Every 12-36 months, as recommended by your veterinarian

    Rabies vaccination schedule

    First rabies vaccination 12 weeks
    Rabies booster Every 12 months

    Biochemical profile

    Also called a chemistry profile, a biochemical profile is a series of tests your veterinarian may wish to perform to evaluate your cat’s health.

    Performed on the clear/fluid portion of the blood, the biochemical profile evaluates a variety of bodily systems and can give an overall picture of how your cat’s organs are functioning.

    Test

    SI units

    Conventional (US units)

    Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) 5-130 u/L 5-130 u/L
    Albumin (ALB) 24 – 41 g/L 2.4 – 4.1 g/dl
    Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) 10-80 u/L 10-80 u/L
    Amylase 500-1200 u/L 500-1200 u/L
    Bilirubin-Total 0 – 6.84 u/L 0.0-0.5 mg/dL
    Bilirubin-Direct 0 – 1.71 u/L 0.0 – 0.1 mg/dl
    BUN 6.069 – 12.495 mmol/L 17 – 35 mg/dl
    Calcium (Ca) 1.875 – 2.7 mmol/L 7.5 – 10.8 mg/dl
    Chloride 111 – 125 mmol/L 111 – 125 mEq/l
    Cholesterol (CHOL) 1.092 – 4.42 mmol/L 42 – 170 mg/dl
    Creatinine 70.72 – 159.12 µmol/L 0.8 – 1.8 mg/dl
    Glucose 3.85 – 8.25 mmol/L 70 – 150 mg/dl
    Magnesium (Mg) 0.8-1.2 mmol/L 1.9-2.8 mg/dL
    Phosphorous (P) 1.0659 – 2.4225 mmol/L 3.3 – 7.5 mg/dl
    Potassium (K) 4.5 – 5.3 mmol/L 4.5 – 5.3 mEq/l
    Sodium (Na) 147 – 156 mmol/L 147 – 156 mEq/l
    T 40-182 ng/dL
    Total T 1.0-4.8µg/dL

    Complete blood count

    A series of tests that evaluates the cellular components of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). Vets often take this test to check for anemia, infections, and other health problems.

    Normal ranges

    RBC (x106/µl)

    5-10

    Hemoglobin (g/dl)

    8.0-15.0

    MCV-Mean corpuscular volume (fl)

    39-55

    Hematocrit (PCV) (%)

    24-45

    White blood cell (/µl)

    5,500-19,500

    Neutrophils (mature) (/µl)

    2,500-12,500

    Neutrophils (bands) (/µl)

    0 – 300

    Lymphocytes (/µl)

    1,500-7,000

    Monocytes (/µl)

    0-850

    Eosinophils (/µl)

    0-1,500

    Basophils (/µl)

    rare

    Platelets (x 105/µl)

    3.0-8.0

    Plasma Proteins (g/dl)

    6.0-8.0

    Fibrinogen (mg/dl)

    50-300

    Cat years to human years

    Human years

    Cat years

    1 15
    2 25
    3 29
    4 33
    5 37
    6 41
    7 45
    8 49
    9 53
    10 57
    11 61
    12 65
    13 69
    14 73
    15 77
    16 81
    17 85
    18 89
    19 93
    20 97

    Author

    • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She 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. Full author bio