Cats can develop
heart problems over the course of their lives and, just like with people, it
can be a “silent killer.” Although less
common in cats than in dogs, cats can suffer from heart problems from a hereditary
condition, an injury to the heart, or hypertension. The most commonly diagnosed heart condition,
which accounts for two-thirds of heart conditions vets see in cats, is adult-onset
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This
translates to an enlargement or thickening of the heart walls that can lead to
blood clots and congestive heart failure.
Exactly what causes this adult-onset condition isn’t clear but cardiomyopathy
can be related to another condition somewhere else that the cat may be
diagnosed with, such as thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and anemia. A cat’s weight, level of activity, and diet
can also be factors. Heart disease can also happen more frequently in certain
|Lovey has heart failure and has a very poor prognosis.|
to the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), feline heart disease impacts these
parts of the heart:
heart muscle which pumps the blood around the body
heart valves which act to prevent the blood going in the wrong direction
pericardium which is a tough membrane surrounding and protecting the heart
- the electrical conducting system which acts to initiate and transfer
electrical impulses around the heart allowing it to contract or beat in a
systematic and coordinated fashion
Jewell also has heart failure and a poor prognosis.
heart disease may result in congestive heart failure when a cat’s heart can’t
pump enough blood around the body and fluid backs up into the lungs. At this stage, cats will experience
difficulty in breathing because of the fluid.
know that cats are masters at hiding their pain or discomfort. It can be tough
for cat owners to see the signs of heart disease since cats sleep a lot, and their
activities during a day aren’t like a dog’s, which can include regular daily
walks, running and playing with their owners for extended periods of time. Regular wellness checkups with your vet are
key to monitoring your cat’s heart health
VCA lists these as the most common signs of feline heart disease:
respiratory rate and effort
hind leg paralysis accompanied by pain due to thromboembolism (blood
clots), which may be referred to as a ‘saddle thrombus’
signs to watch for are vomiting, depression, restlessness, poor circulation (if
the footpads are cold and the gums and tongue are grayish and not pink) and a
swollen belly, retaining fluid in the legs, sudden weight GAIN from the fluid.
you see signs in your adult cat, see your vet right away. It’s critical to determine exactly what is
going on with your cat’s heart and how advanced the condition. There are medications that can help treat heart
disease, like ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and diuretics. To regulate blood clotting, the vet might
recommend clopidogrel. Your cat’s diet
might need to be adjusted, too. It’s
worth saying again that regular annual wellness checkups for your cat are critical
in monitoring your cat’s overall health as well as his heart.
CLICK HERE for a clinical look at feline heart disease.
CLICK HERE for an overview of the causes and symptoms of heart disease.