What is feline heart disease? – Causes, symptoms and treatment

Heart diseases in cats tend to manifest with particular prevalence in adulthood, with males of certain breeds being the profiles with the highest risk. Several studies have confirmed the influence of the genetic component in its development.

The weakening of the heart in felines has to do with muscle atrophy. Hence the name of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Difficulty in irrigating the blood compromises circulation and leads to complications such as thromboembolism that put the survival of the animal at risk.

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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy How and why does it manifest?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most recurrent trigger of heart failure in cats. A serious pathology that can occur due to primary or secondary causes. The former have to do with congenital alterations that reduce the functioning of the heart, leaving a mark on the morphology of said muscle.

In general, the dysfunction is caused by an increase in the size or thickness of the left ventricle that stiffens the atrial wall and makes it difficult for blood to pass. Consequently, the left ventricle is diminished and the atrium enlarged.

Nutritional, metabolic, inflammatory or toxic disorders act as secondary, supervening causes, and are more typical of dilated cardiomyopathy that affects both ventricles . In fact, the lack of taurine in the diet favors its appearance. Do not hesitate to provide a quality and specific feed for cats for your best friend.

Risk factor’s

The health risks of your cat derived from the difficulties of the heart to dilate are evident, since the probabilities of suffering strokes increase, due to the formation of clots, and ischemias, due to the decrease in blood flow.

The concurrence of diseases such as hyperthyroidism , hypertension or acromegaly favors cardiac damage by overloading the activity of this muscle . In all cases, there is a constant that is repeated: depending on the affected area and the stage in which it is detected, the prognosis will be more or less favorable.


How do I know if my cat has cardiomyopathy?

Among the symptoms related to this pathology, the following stand out:

  • Your kitten finds it difficult to breathe, gasps, and dyspnea is accompanied by vomiting.
  • His pulse weakens.
  • The heart rate is racing.
  • He is listless and inattentive.
  • Faints frequently.

In the more advanced stages, when the heart disease is almost systemic, the extremities of the upper trunk feel cold and numb. Your pet will feel a lot of pain as a result of paralysis of these limbs. There will be no pulse in the femoral artery due to arterial thromboembolism and sudden death could occur.

It is estimated that 20-40% of cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy develop thromboembolism and its prognosis is reserved by the clogging of the arteries that negatively interferes with the correct functioning of other vital organs due to the lack of blood return.

Does it have a cure?

It is an irreversible pathology. As an owner, the only thing you can do, in collaboration with the veterinarian, is to alleviate his discomfort and stabilize the situation. In other words, treatment will be aimed at improving the filling of the heart, normalizing its rate, and restoring circulation in order to prevent thromboembolism.

The most common therapy incorporates medications along with the reduction of stress and salt in the diet in order to avoid the accumulation of fluids. Diuretic drugs are intended to reduce the fluid in the lungs and in the pleural area.

Angiotensin converting enzyme ( ACE ) inhibitors , beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers have vasodilation and relief of the heart’s burden in common. Acetylsalicylic acid aims to prevent complications such as thromboembolism. Your cat should attend annual follow-up veterinary visits.

How is it diagnosed?

Especially in the initial stages, the kitten can be asymptomatic and even in routine tests a murmur can not be diagnosed. Consequently, it is always recommended to carry out more advanced tests given the relevance of its early detection to guarantee the maximum quality of life for your cat.

Ultrasound, complemented with other tests such as the electrocardiogram, to identify possible arrhythmias, and radiography, to rule out the presence of effusions or edema, will allow your veterinarian to make a more precise diagnosis.

Are certain breeds prone?

As a general recommendation, keep in mind that it is essential to detect this disease prior to minor surgeries such as castration, since it could aggravate its symptoms and accelerate its progress.

Although the cause of primary cardiac dysfunction is still unknown, Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, British Shorthair, Sphynx, and Chartreux cats have a greater predisposition to develop it. Several studies have shown the involvement of genetic the mutation synthesis myosin protein C .


In short, far from alarming you, remember the convenience of keeping your veterinary consultation routine updated at the end of the year, since the detection of any disease in an incipient phase always makes the difference between one prognosis and another, even more so when it comes to an organ like the heart.



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