What Is Heart Disease In Cats?

Learn more about heart disease in cats and how you can keep your cat as healthy as possible through routine veterinary care.

Heart disease in cats can be either present at birth or acquired throughout time.  Congenital heart disease in cats can either be present at birth or acquired throughout time.  Cats with heart disease are prone to congestive heart failure, since untreated heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure.

Early onset of the disease can be difficult to ID because most cats do not display any noticeable signs until the disease is far advanced.  Sometimes to a point in which cats tend to become more introverted and withdrawn causing them to change their overall behavior. Because of this, we encourage pet parents to be as proactive as possible with their cats' health.  Sign up for a pet wellness plan today to commit to your pet’s health and get them the proper care they deserve when they need it most.  With routine vet visits and taking our team’s recommendations we will work together to help keep your pet happy and healthy for as long as possible.  

Symptoms of Heart Disease:

When it comes to heart disease, the most common signs in cats are listed below.  It’s important to keep in mind that not every cat will develop every single one of the following symptoms and many cats will have more than one that they experience. 

  • Poor appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Difficulty with or discontinuing exercise
  • Regularly elevated heart rate
  • Increased respiratory rate and effort
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Sudden hind leg paralysis 
  • Fainting/collapse
  • Treatment for Heart Disease in Cats

There is no cure for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats because the damage caused to the structure of the heart muscle is irreversible, unfortunately. In some cases, however, where heart disease is secondary to a treatable condition, such as hyperthyroidism, the symptoms can be treated. 

Your veterinarian can prescribe a variety of medications in order to reduce the risk of cats developing congestive heart failure.  These types of medications aim to help relax the heart muscle, slow down the heart beat, and decrease the amount of work the heart has to do. Also, in addition diuretics are commonly prescribed to patients to reduce any  sort of fluid overload. 

In addition to medication though, there are other types of treatment your veterinarian may recommend. Alternative treatments include starting on a low-sodium diet, oxygen therapy, taurine supplementation, or even having surgical procedures to remove any excess fluid buildup from the chest cavity or abdomen.

Heart Disease in Cats - Pain

Some cats with heart disease can develop a painful, immobilizing condition known as saddle thrombus. This is caused when a blood clot begins in the heart and moves out of the aorta blocking normal blood flow to your cat's hind legs. If you happen to notice any sudden hind leg paralysis in your cat contact us immediately to get your cat seen as soon as possible. 

Heart Disease in Cats - Life Expectancy

Cats with structural heart diseases are at greater risk of developing recurrent signs of congestive heart failure over time.  These patients may require lifelong medication. In general, the average survival time after a cat has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure is 6 to 12 months. 

Cats that have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure will need frequent veterinary follow-up visits and additional tests may be performed in order to monitor the cat's heart health. 

Early Detection of Heart Disease

The most important thing to know when it comes to monitoring heart health in cats is that veterinarians can often identify heart disease before symptoms occur. Taking your cat to the vet annually for a complete physical examination and blood tests are highly effective at screening your pet for other diseases that can affect their heart.  At Brook Farm Veterinary Center we recommend having your pet screened for heart disease.  The test we now offer is fast, simple, painless and most importantly at under $100 it’s affordable for the majority of pet parents.  We recommend that all cats over the age of 5 years old get tested annually.  Another time we recommend this test be done is any time a cat goes under anesthesia, regardless of their age to be the safest possible. https://www.idexx.com/en/veterinary/snap-tests/snap-feline-probnp-test/

If your cat is exhibiting signs of a heart problem contact us right away! Our team is always here for you and your pets.  As an AAHA-accredited hospital, you can trust our team to take care of every detail and make you feel right at home. Our practice is thorough, responsive, sanitary, and safe.


SOURCES: https://www.matthews.carolinavet.com/site/pet-health-blog/2021/07/15/heart-disease-cats-types-symptoms-treatmentsSymptoms of Heart Disease in Cats



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