Ever pick up baby Sasha and wonder why her heart is racing? Did she just stampede through the house? Did something startle her? Don't despair. Her rapid heartbeat isn't caused just by her actions. Kittens' hearts naturally beat about twice as fast as adult felines.
Kitten vs. Adult
Your tiny little furball will have a fast heartbeat of around 200 to 260 beats per minute, reports VetInfo. By the time she reaches her full growth potential, often around 9 months of age, her heart rate will steadily decline. As an adult her heartbeat should be between 120 and 140 beats per minute.
Her actions and surroundings can certainly spike her pulse and make her heart beat a little faster. When a dog walks by the front window, something scares her out of her deep sleep or when she's in a zone while pouncing on that furry mouse, her heart rate can go up by 30 beats above what's normal for her. Once she calms back down, her heart beat will resume its typical rapid rate. In that rare instance that your pint-size furball actually sleeps, her heart might actually beat a little slower. This is normal heart activity while she's catching some zzzs.
Checking Her Pulse
Cup your hand around Sasha's chest, which is probably easier while she's lying down. Set a timer or watch a clock for 15 seconds. During that time frame you'll need to count her heartbeats. At the end of 15 seconds, multiply the total heartbeats by four to calculate her beats per minute. For example, if you count 50 beats in 15 seconds, her heart rate is 200 beats per minute. Because her heart beats so quickly during her youth, you might not be able to get an accurate count. Your veterinarian can get an exact count of beats during her routine exam.
Your little feline companion can be born with congenital heart disease, although heart disease is more common in dogs than in cats. This condition causes all or part of her heart to form incorrectly. She won't show any symptoms until the condition is more severe and a rapid or slow heartbeat isn't necessarily related. If she has a defect in her heart, she'll have trouble breathing or may breathe rapidly all the time, or she suffer paralysis in her hind legs, delayed growth and fatigue. Congenital heat disease doesn't always impact the entire litter, rather just one kitten can wind up with it, reports California-based VCA Animal Hospitals. Fortunately, she can still live a normal playful life, even if your vet determines she has heart problems.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.