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What is Rapid Heart Rate?

These valves separate oxygenated blood from un-oxygenated blood and complete the blood exchange through the body, but in order for the blood to move, the heart muscle needs to contract. The sinoatrial node is the electric impulse that triggers the heart to pump blood through each of the heart’s valves and chambers. The sinoatrial node or pacemaker, is what we feel as the cat’s heartbeat and can measure the number of times the electric impulse triggers the heart to pump over a minute’s time, giving us the feline’s general heart rate. The average heart rate for a feline is roughly 140-220 bpm (beats per minute), depending on the size of the cat, but complications with a feline’s sinoatrial node can make the heart beat over 240 bpm. A rapid heart rate in cats is a heart rate greater than 220 bpm and is known as tachycardia.

The heart of a cat is composed of four chambers; the right and left atria make up the top two chambers of the heart, while the right and left ventricles make up the bottom portion of the heart. In order to circulate the blood to each chamber and to the body, the heart has an assortment of valves that temporarily open to allow blood to pass through. The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle. The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle. The pulmonary valve is located between the right ventricle and the main pulmonary artery. Finally, the aortic valve is located between the left ventricle to the main artery of the body, the aorta.

Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Rapid Heart Rate in Cats

A cat with a rapid heart rate may have little to no present symptoms, as a rapid heart rate is a symptom in itself and not the definition of a disease. Congestive heart failure is the common cause of a rapid heart rate in cats, therefore, a feline may present disease-related symptoms, such as:

  • Cyanosis (blue discoloration of the mucous membranes)
  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) 
  • Cough

Additional symptoms a cat may display with a rapid heart rate may include: 

  • Heart murmur 
  • Weak pulse
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) 
  • Sudden death
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Overall weakness
  • Syncope (fainting)
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Causes of Rapid Heart Rate in Cats

There is a number of physiological and pathologic reasons a feline could develop a rapid heart rate. A cat could experience a temporarily elevated heart rate due to fear, excitement, rage, restraint, and exercise, but a prolonged rapid heart rate could be caused by a serious health condition including: 

  • Pancreatitis 
  • Cancer 
  • Heart tumor
  • Digitalis toxicity (heart medication poisoning) 
  • Myocarditis 
  • Gastric dilation
  • Chronic heart-valve disease
  • Cardiomyopathy 
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Shock
  • Thromboembolic disease 
  • Hypovolemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Metabolic disease
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Stress
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Diagnosis of Rapid Heart Rate in Cats

Diagnosis of a rapid heart rate in a cat can be completed simply through listening to the heart with a stethoscope, but to pinpoint the underlying cause for a cat’s heart to pump faster than it needs to, a thorough veterinary examination will be required. The veterinarian will need to take a look at your cat’s medical records, current medications, and past medical problems, as past complications could be linked the feline’s current health problem. Blood work is likely to be done in order to detect any abnormalities within the blood itself or the function of the body’s organs. 

ECG

An ECG or electrocardiogram is a non-invasive test that uses sensory attachments to detect the electric impulses produced by the heart. An ECG can determine the feline’s electrical activity and heart rhythm. 

Auscultation

Auscultation is the listening of heart sounds through the use of a stethoscope. This examination tool can help the veterinarian detect a heart murmur and arrhythmias (irregular heart beat). 

Radiography (x-ray)

A thoracic radiograph, or x-ray of the chest, can provide valuable information to assess a feline with a rapid heart rate. The veterinarian will be able to detect an enlarged portion of the heart, indicating one of the values is not working properly as blood is pooling into one heart chamber. Tumors that have grown within the heart tissues can also be detected on an x-ray and aid the doctor in proper treatment.

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Treatment of Rapid Heart Rate in Cats

The treatment of a rapid heart rate in cats depends on the overall condition causing the heart to pump faster than it needs to. If the feline is unstable, he or she will need to be hospitalized until the cat is once again stable and the proper medications can be given. There is no treatment for a rapid heart rate in cats by itself.

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Recovery of Rapid Heart Rate in Cats

If the overall cause of the cat’s rapid heart rate is determined to be a metabolic condition, the prognosis is generally good. However, heart disease, cancer, and congenital problems could worsen over time, increasing the chance for sudden death. The veterinarian will likely have your feline complete routine veterinary check-ups and may even have the feline wear a Holter monitoring device. The Holter monitor is a portable ECG that will monitor your cat’s heart rate over several hours.

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Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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Rapid Heart Rate Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Black and white cat

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Heart Calm Motions

Is she okay? Should I be concerned? What could be wrong with her?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. A rapid heartbeat can be a sign of heart or lung disease, or a systemic problem, if it isn't normal or she hasn't been running around. If this is something you are noticing, it would be best to have your veterinarian examine her, as they can listen to her heart and lungs and see what might be going on. If there is a problem, they will be able to help get treatment. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Maincoon x british short hair

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5months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Concave Chest

she was completely fine and then when she was sleeping we suddenly noticed her rib cage rising and falling and you can tell she’s breathing quite forcefully and rapidly but we don’t know why? we counted that she gets around 11 beats per 15 seconds so roughly 44beats every minute is her respiratory rate. should we be concerned?

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that your kitten is dreaming and breathing faster than normal. If this is a one-time occurrence, it may be nothing to worry about. If this is something that happens frequently, or she seems to have exercise intolerance or tires easily, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine her, listen to her heart and lungs, and see what might be going on. I hope it all goes well for her.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Short hair kitten

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4-5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Or Drinking, Rapid Hearbeat

Last night I noticed she didn't want any of her treats and then we tried things we knew she liked and she refused them. I gently put my ear on her tummy and I noticed her heart rate was very high. My daughter just got this kitten and her siblings and mother and the mothers perilous litter live outside and they all seem fine. I am sure you will tell me to take her to a vet but its Sunday and I'm not sure any vets will take her today.....

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Since I cannot see her, and it seems that she is sick, i do think that It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Calico

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Seventeen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Multiple

Our cat is 17 years old. Has become blind in the last month, now she is pacing, falling over, loose stools, and heart rate of 270.

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. With all of those things going on, and her age, she should a veterinarian right away. They will be able to help get her heart rate down and figure out what is going on with her. I hope that she is okay.

July 31, 2020

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Sox

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Tortishell 1/2 Persian

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has a fast heart rate and irregular heartbeat shown from an ecg & ultra sound, they have recommended 1/4 tablet of beta blockers she is 14 and fine it was a weight check that brought it to our attention, as she had lost a bit of weight she has always had a heart murmur

Aug. 12, 2018

Sox's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I'm glad that your veterinarian detected that problem at her weight check! Giving her her medication as directed should help keep her heart rate down, and a recheck with your veterinarian in a few days will help to know if the medication is helping or if the dosage might need to be adjusted.

Aug. 12, 2018

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Diego

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Hemingway

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20 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Blindness
Rapid Pulse
Walking Into Walls
Cracking Bones

My cat is about 19 years old, and recently went fully blind and is just now getting to find his way around the house again. Ive noticed that he is losing weight and has a very rapid heart beat when I pick him up. I hope to help him to eat more as his food and water were up high previously but I moved them to floor level today. Should I take him to the vet to see if he is in pain/how do you know a blind cat is in pain? Are there any ways to help his heart stop beating so fast? He has also become very active, and he is always wandering around and rarely lays down, and when he does its for brief periods behind the couch. Is he preparing for death? Thank you for any advice you have ~ a very concerned cat lover

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Ziggy

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Siamese

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breathing

My 10 year old Siamese has seizures about 1 or 2 month (under 2 minutes). Sometimes, he gets tachycardic for up to 48 hours afterward (just hides in his house). Would animal CBD help?

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kurt

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Scottish

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Tachycardia

hi. sometimes(3-4 times a day) my cat gets tachy cardia and his heart starts to beat very fast mostly due to something out of habit or some kind of stress, and sometimes without anycause! he laso has asd(4mm). he currently doesnt take any medication for tachycardia.. i was wondering that is it appropriate for him to take something like digoxin or praparanolol or something.. alongside his daily dose of enalapril and frusimide? his doctor doesnt believe me and thinks its not that important .he takes electrocardiographs every 6 months and is 4.5kgs & about upper end of 1.5years old. thx -his tachycardia started after he took 2 doses of 1/4 25thorazine to calm his stress for his last electrocardiograph and has continued to this day

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Bella

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Persian

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Heart Rate

My Persian has an elevated hr and increased respirations, no history of this and is currently on for a possible respiratory infection. What should I do? SHE IS TEN, she appears to be resting but definitely something is abnormal

Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 515 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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