In a prospective study, eight (four males and four females) healthy, adult captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) were immobilized with a combination of tiletamine–zolazepam (4 mg/kg, i.m.), administered with a remote drug delivery system, to define normal cardiac morphology and function. Standard lateral and ventrodorsal (VD) radiographs were then taken to measure heart and thorax using a metric and vertebral scale system. Standard six-lead electrocardiograms were obtained with the animals in right lateral recumbency under isoflurane anesthesia. Mean chest depth and width was 18.7 ± 1.3 cm and 13.0 ± 0.6 cm, respectively. The mean lateral cardiac short axis (X) was 9.1 ± 0.6 cm, the mean cardiac long axis (Y) was 13.6 ± 0.7 cm, and the mean lateral heart sum (X Y) was 22.6 ± 1.2 cm. In the VD projection, mean cardiac short axis (V) was 10.1 ± 0.7 cm, mean cardiac long axis (W) was 14.9 ± 1.2 cm, and the heart sum (V W) was 24.9 ± 1.8 cm. The vertebral heart size was 8.2 ± 0.9. All cheetahs had sinus rhythm, and no arrhythmias were noted. Mean heart rate was 126 ± 15 beats/min, and the mean electrical axis was 82 ± 5°. P waves were always positive on lead II and had a width of 0.04 ± 0.01 sec and a height between 0.1 and 0.3 mV. PR intervals were 0.11 ± 0.01 sec. The height of the QRS complex was 1.25 ± 0.24 mV and the width 0.06 ± 0.01 sec. The ST segment was 0.04 sec, and the T wave (height: 0.25 ± 0.05 mV) was positive in all cheetahs examined. Although these cardiac and thoracic measurements were larger than those of domestic cats (Felis catus), ratios of cardiac parameters were similar in both species. Electrocardiographic findings were similar to those reported from domestic cats.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4