10/30/16

Heart Disease in Cats

Heart disease in cats occurs in more commonly than most think. It is sometimes hard to diagnose the earliest stages because there are not always symptoms that are obvious. Heart disease in cats can strike any breed or age of cat, the risk is the same for all cats. Let’s look closer at the most common forms of heart disease for cats.

For cats, there exist three primary kinds of heart disease. The cat could get restrictive, feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHCM), or dilative heart disease. The restrictive kind is the rarest of the three and happens as the wall of the heart are replaced repeatedly with scar tissue. With the FHCM, the walls get firmer and thicker. The heart’s muscular walls weaken and get thinner in the dilative kind of heart disease.

Heart disease in cats can turn serious and even fatal quickly because symptoms do not appear that early in the disease. As the symptoms do show they are often hard to see. The most usual symptoms are vomiting, a hard time breathing, little or no appetite, or opening the mouth to breathe. When the disease progresses the symptoms could be fainting, paralysis, and dying suddenly.

It takes an exam by a vet to usually find a problem with the cat’s heart. The vet could hear a heart murmur, which could be a sign that the cat is having a heart problem. A battery of test can be done that could include echocardiograms, chest x-rays, and electrocardiograms. The vets usually find that the electrocardiograms give them the most useful results.

If the heart problem is caught in time, treatment can be successful. In the event the heart of the cat is not yet failing their condition could be brought under control. Diuretics are sometimes prescribed to get rid of excess fluid and make it easier for the heart to work. In the event that the cat is suffering from the feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the vet will prescribe calcium channel blockers for making the walls of the heart less stiff.

Vasodilators are used to get the cat’s blood pressure lower. These can also lessen the heart’s workload, which is vital with any heart problem. The cat could need aspirin and betablockers as well when fighting this condition.

Heart disease can also be split into two classifications as far as congenital meaning that the cat is born with the problem, and acquired which means the cat develops later on in its life.

When the heart won’t work right, there can be a few things that might be the cause. The heart’s valves, the duties of which are to regulate the blood flow in the heart’s chambers could leak or not be able to open all the way. The muscle walls can have holes, which can even affect the major vessels and the chambers. These walls can also change or get damaged for a variety of reasons. All of this can make more or less blood be circulated through the heart and into the body, and if the problem gets bad enough the symptoms will start showing up, as in the problems breathing or even the cat fainting.

So if you suspect that you cat is having problems consult a vet immediately, because time is valuable in treating the problem of heart disease in cats.