The feline heart has four chambers, similar to the
human heart. The two chambers
on the top of the heart are the
atria (plural for atrium). The two
chambers at the bottom of the
heart are the ventricles. The left
atrium and left ventricle are separated from the right atrium and
right ventricle by a dividing wall
called the septum.
What is one of the most important parts of the
veterinary exam? Listening to your
cat’s heart with the stethoscope.
The normal heart rate in a cat is
160 to 240, which is much faster
than a human’s.
Cats are often nervous during
the veterinary visit, so it’s not
unusual to find heart rates in the
200s. The rhythm should be regular, and the heartbeat should be
Abnormalities in the heart rate and rhythm are fairly
uncommon. The most common
abnormality heard with the
stethoscope is a heart murmur.
A murmur is the sound of turbulent blood flow and may be an
indicator that something is amiss.
The discovery of a heart murmur
during your cat’s physical examination warrants further investigation.
It can be difficult for a veterinarian to know just
by listening whether a feline heart
murmur is merely a physiologic
finding (there’s actually nothing
wrong with the heart) or a pathologic finding (there is indeed
something wrong with the heart).
Physiologic murmurs are benign
and can be caused by things such
as stress, excitement, pain, or fever.
The heart is the main organ in the circulatory system. Its job is to pump blood throughout the body, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tis- sues. You may be thinking, “Well, everyone knows that.” But here are 10 more things you probably don’t know.
10 THINGS YOU’LL
WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
THE FELINE HEART BY ARNOLD PLOTNICK, M.S., D.V.M., ACVIM