Are you a cat lover, concerned about your feline’s friend health and you don’t know how to go about it?
Have you noticed some symptoms indicating that all is not well with your cat? Worry no more. I am here to help. A cat is one of the best pets you can have around in your home. Just like you take care of your kids and you are much concerned about their health and wellbeing, you need to do the same for your cat.
The best way to keep track of your cat’s health to ensure that she is healthy and comfortable is to identify a passionate cat vet for tips and inspirations of raising a healthy cat. Cats are just like infants. They do not know how to speak out when unwell. Some conditions like wounds and skin conditions are easy to spot since we can see. Do you want to know more about cats, visit What Is A Feral Cat to learn exciting information about cats.
Other internal conditions like heart problems are not easy to detect and the issue can progress without you knowing until when it is too late. In this article, we are going to learn more about cats and heart diseases. Right?
My name is Tracy, and I am the owner of VIP Top Cats Shop. I am just a distinguished cat lover. Ever since when I was a little child, I have had a strong passion for cats. This passion is what made me to open this store so that I can help as many other cat lovers to identify the best upkeep and maintenance for cats. I have been doing this for more than ten years now.
Having worked with various government bodies and other companies in the pets department, I have gained a lot of experience about cat’s health. I have also managed to identify the many day-to-day challenges that many cat lovers undergo in their quest to bring up healthy and bouncy cats.
I opened a store that sells affordable and unique products for cat lovers. Along with this, I offer professional help and support on cats upkeep and health. Today, let look at cats and heart diseases.
Cats And Heart Diseases Just like human beings, animals too suffer from various heart diseases that may be life threatening if not detected in early stages. A cat’s heart is divided into four chambers. We have two chambers at the top, that is the right and left atria. On the bottom is the right and left ventricles. The function of the left ventricle is to receive the oxygenated bm the lungs, then pumps the blood out into the aortic valve. The aortic valve is the main artery in the body and its work is to supply oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. Here are more Hidden Cat Illness Symptoms
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)- Causes And Symptoms
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart disease for the cats that tampers with the functioning of the left ventricle, affecting its ability to pump blood into the aorta. Normally, a healthy left ventricle is usually thicker than the right ventricle due to its major task of pumping out blood to all parts of the body. When a cat is suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there is an abnormally enlarged or thickened muscle of the left ventricle.
This condition has been associated with some genetic tendencies with the family of Maine coon cats having a high number of HCM cases. More research is being carried out to identify other breeds and cat families where mutation process is associated with the cause of HCM causes.
The research findings show that male cats are at a higher risk of contracting Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy than female cats. Cats from 3 months to 17 years have been reported to be suffering from HCM, although majority of these cases affect cats 5-7 years largely.
Symptoms Of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Unlike many domestic animals, it is not likely to notice earlier symptoms of a disease in cats. But when you see the following symptoms, be quick to seek medical intervention from a professional vet near you.
- Breathing difficulties
- Poor appetite
- Feeble pulsation
- Irregular heart sounds
- Very cold limbs and abrupt hind-limb paralysis
- Lack of ability to put up with exercise
- Bluish discoloration of the cats foot pads and nail beds
- Sudden heart attack
Causes of HCM
The main causes of HCM in cats are genetic mutations and predispositions. In most cases, the causes remain unknown, though more research is being carried out to identify its cause. If a cat is suffering from conditions like hypertension or hyperthyroidism, the condition tends to worsen.
Diagnosis of HCM
Whenever you notice any of the above symptoms, it is advisable you rush your cat to a vet as early as possible since early diagnosis might help the vet to diagnose the condition before it worsens and put your cat into the right medication immediately to save its life.
Thorough history of your cat’s health and your pet’s genetic background is essential. The vet may use an electrocardiogram recording to examine the cat’s heart muscles electrical currents. This helps in revealing any irregularities in the cardiac electrical conduction as well as to determine the origin of irregular heartbeats if they are present. If the veterinary officer does not find the electrocardiogram adequate, he will insist on further checkups.
Radiograph or echocardiograph (ultrasound) imaging will help the vet to visually examine the heart for signs of thickening or enlargement of the heart’s walls as well as the thickening of the mitral valve. Mitral valve is responsible for controlling blood flow between the left ventricle and the right atrium. Before the vet rules out on the outcome of the above tests, he carries out two more tests.
The vet checks your cat’s blood pressure to detect if the cat is suffering from hypertension. He carries out blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism will be detected at this level since it bears similar symptoms as those of HCM, for instance; irregular heartbeat, short breath and lethargy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mostly leads to congestive heart failure. So, if the vet diagnosis your cat with HCM, your cat will have to be hospitalized for close monitoring and care. If your cat is experiencing breathing difficulties, it is given oxygen therapy. Your cat needs to be kept in a quiet stress-free environment for its general wellbeing and peace of mind. Warm or electric blankets can be used to cover your cat if it is very cold, or if its body temperatures are low to raise its body temperatures and keep it warm.
Recommended medications for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Aspirin dose- reduces the risk of blood clots
Nitroglycerine ointment- dilates the ventricles and arteries for improved blood flow
Beta blockers- corrects abnormal heart beats, slows heart rate, controls blockage of blood flow
Diltiazim- slows heart rate, reduces enlargement in the left ventricle, and treats irregular heartbeats.
Ace inhibitors- for congestive heart failure, it helps by improving the blood flow in the ventricles
Spironolactone- can be used together with furosemide to cure congestive heart failure
Warfarin- this is to prevent blood clotting
Furosemide- best medication that removes excess fluids from the body
When a cat is undergoing through HCM medication, this might take some time before the cat recovers completely. During this period, it is necessary to find the best living and management conditions for improved and quick healing.
If the cat has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, a sodium-restricted diet is recommended. This is to keep the blood pressure stable.
Ensure that you put your cat in a stress-free environment. Seek to provide a quiet and safe place for the cat. This should be away from other pets and active children. Remember the cat’s left ventricle is already overstressed, adding more stress and noise on top may lead to heart failure.
During medication, the cat requires to be closely monitored. One should seek to see how the cat is reacting from various medications and drugs. Some drugs like warfarin which is commonly used to stop blood clots may have some bad side effects on the cat; for instance excessive bleeding. It is therefore of great importance to protect the cat from play and objects that may lead to bruises. The caregiver should also monitor the progress on appetite, breathing and drowsiness or paralysis.
Check to see if the cat is still experiencing painful hind limb weakness. Look for the progress on other conditions that were diagnosed before the on start of medication. This is the information the vet will need during the next visit to know the status of the cat. He may be required to change some of the medication or stick on what is working well for the cat.
The vet will repeat the heart ultrasound after six months to check the current condition of the heart. The outcome on the ultrasound is what guides the vet to determine if the cat is well or if it needs to be put on more drugs and treatment.
There are other cat heart diseases that are independent from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Lets look at some of these heart diseases for the cat.
HEART MURMURS IN CATS
This is a cat heart condition that is characterized by production of audible noise also termed as murmurs. It is as a result of extra vibrations produced from a disturbance in the blood flow in cats. The murmurs can therefore be classified into various classes depending on their timing. Systolic murmurs results from heart muscle contractions while diastolic murmurs occurs during heart muscles relaxation in between the bits. There is also the continuous and to-and-fro heart murmurs that are present throughout the entire cardiac cycle.
There are various characteristics that are associated with heart murmurs in cats. This depends on their grade, location and configuration. If the murmurs are associated with structural heart disease, the cat coughs, gets weak or gets intolerant with exercise. You find her sleeping all the time and she does not want to play or exercise.
Grade I – the murmurs are barely audible
Grade II – you can hear the soft murmurs by use of a stethoscope
Grade III – at this stage, only intermediate loudness is heard
Grade IV – there are loud murmurs at this stage since they radiate widely.
Grade V – this is where you hear very loud and audible murmurs. You can hear strong vibrations through the cat’s chest wall.
Grade VI – the murmurs are very loud, audible with very strong vibrations on the cat’s chest wall.
Different Murmur Pattern
Plateau murmurs – have uniform loudness. They are also called regurgitate murmurs since they result from typical blood regurgitation through an abnormal valvular orifice.
Decrescendo murmurs- these starts out loud and progressively gets softer. They are typical of diastolic murmurs.
Crescendo-decrescendo murmurs- these are the types of murmurs that get louder and then softer. They are typical of ejection murmurs resulting from turbulent forward flow.
Causes of murmurs in cats
The following are main causes of murmurs in cats.
Blood flow disturbances which results from high flow through normal and abnormal valves. It can also be associated with structure vibration in the blood flow.
Overflow obstruction flow disturbances or forward flow that is through unhealthy valves or into a enlarged great vessel.
Regurgitant flow disturbances that is due to an incompetent valve, or a defect in the septum. That wall which separates the left and right side of the heart.
Other conditions and diseases known to bring systolis murmurs in cats include;
- Heartworm disease
- Cardiomyopathy and aortic valve incompetence
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Systolic anterior mitral motion
- Dynamic sub aortic stenosis
- Atrial and ventricular septul fault
- Tetralogy of fallot
Continuous or to-and-fro murmur
- Aortic stenosis with aortic regurgitation
- Ventricular septal defect with aortic regurgitation
- Patent ductus arteriosus
- Aortic and pulmonic valve endocarditis
- Mitral and tricuspid valve stenosis
The vet does a close scrutiny to determine the exact cause of the symptoms. He must be in a position to differentiate an extensive range of irregular heart sounds. This could be split sounds, gallop rhythms. ejection sounds and clicks. The veterinary listens keenly using the appropriate medical appliances to see if timing of irregular sound is related with respiration or heartbeat.
The underlying causes of murmurs in cats can also be determined by the location and the radiation of the murmur together with the timing during a cardiac cycle. The vet conducts some tests, x-rays, echocardiography and Doppler studies. He also conducts blood count to determine if there is anemic murmurs.
The course of treatment is usually determined based on the clinical signs. If the cat is not suffering from heart failure, outpatient treatment is recommended. The doctor checks the condition of murmurs in kittens. If not severe, the kittens requires no treatment. Such murmur is likely to resolve itself in about six months’ time. The doctor will advise on routine diagnostic imaging to closely monitor the progress of murmurs in cats. This is what guides the vet to determine whether the cat requires to stay on medication or not, and even whether to change the medical prescription.
Enlarged Heart In Cats
This condition is also termed as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is a heart disease that affects the ventricular muscle. This condition is categorized by enlarged heart chambers and reduced narrowing ability. The heart is therefore not in a position to push blood out of the corresponding ventricle. DCM makes the heart overloaded. This condition can lead to congestive heart failure.
Earlier on, DCM used to be a common heart disease for cats. Research finding shows that the deficiency of taurine in cat’s diet increases the chances of the occurrence of this heart condition. Taurine is an amino acid that is very essential for cats’ growth and development. Today, most animal food manufacturers are including the right amount of taurine in cats’ diet and in real sense the condition is becoming rare nowadays.
It has also been found that some breeds are more likely to be affected by DCM in comparison to others. For example, Burmese, Siamese and Abyssinian are the most affected breeds. Cats aged 2 to 20 years are likely to be victims of enlarged heart in cats but mostly, the onset age is 10 years.
The following are the common symptoms of a cat suffering from reduced cardiac blood flow as a result of dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced flow as a result of blocked blood vessel
- Sudden onset of pain
The doctor carries out a physical exam to check on heart rate. This is to determine whether there is low, high or normal heart rate. He also checks to see if there is a weak left cardiac impulse, quiet lung sounds, soft heart murmur, hypothermia and galloping rhythm.
What Are The Causes Of Enlarged Heart In Cats?
The major cause of DCM has not been identified to date. Taurine deficiency in cats has been established as a cause of secondary feline DCM. In other cases, genetic predisposition has been found to be also another cause of enlarged heart in cats.
On top of carrying out a thorough physical examination on the cat, there are some recommended medical tests that helps to diagnose DCM and distinguish it from other similar conditions.
The vet can use the electrocardiogram recording to check the electrical currents in the heart muscles. The test indicates if there are any irregularities in the cardiac electric conduction, which affects the heart’s ability to beat or contract. This test is the one which helps the vet to determine the abnormal rhythm of the heart.
X-ray imaging of the chest is used to show the enlarged heart and the presence of any fluids in the chest.
Echocardiograph or what is commonly referred to as the ultrasound imaging is done to confirm the diagnosis of DCM. It is what enables the vet to see the size of the enlarged heart and check to see if the ventricular muscles are contracting. By the use of ultrasound imaging, the doctor is able to see the thickening ventricular walls, plus the enlarged left ventricle and left atrium. He keenly seek to identify if there is low contraction ability. These results are the ones that makes the vet to confirm that the cat is suffering from DCM.
HEART DEFECT IN CATS
This condition is termed as patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) in cats. This condition occurs right at the birth of the cat. When the fetus is in the mother’s womb, the descending aorta is connecte to the ulmonary artery through the ductus arteriosus. This is the blood vessel that allows the blood to flow directly from right side of the fetus’ heart to the aorta, without having to stop for oxygen in the lungs. This is because, blood flowing from the mother to the fetus is already oxygenated and sufficient oxygen is carried along for the fetus.
During birth, the connection between the mother and the baby cat is no longer patent. Now the newborn begins to breath on its own. The pulmonary artery is supposed to open so as to allow blood from the left side of the to flow into the lungs for oxygenation. Then, the ductus arteriosus closes. In PDA condition, the connection is left patent. This results to an abnormal pattern of the heart due to blood diversion. In this case, blood is allowed to flow from the aorta then to the pulmonary artery and finally to the lungs. This condition can cause left-sided congestive heart failure.
The common symptoms of this condition is respiratory distress, coughing, increased rate of breathing and the cat becomes tolerant to exercise. As a result, the cat’s hind legs becomes weaker, blood thickening that causes rapid irregular heart beat and there may be right to left blood clot. There is growth retardation in this cat.
The main cause of PDA is genetic predisposition since it’s a natural birth defect.
Physical exam and chemical blood profile is done together with complete blood count, urinalysis and electrolyte panel to confirm PDA. A thorough history of your cat is required. Ultrasound and radiograph imaging is crucial.
Oxygen therapy may be administered to the cat together with nitrates and cage rest. A surgery is scheduled immediately the cat gains stability. Cats suffering from right to left shunting PDA do not require surgery.
Normal treatment is required for cats with left to right PDA, at least two weeks after surgery. To avoid the transmission of PDA, cats with this condition should not be bled. This can be done by spraying these cats to indicate they have a hereditary history.
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NOTE: *** By no way is this content intended as a Substitute or Diagnosis for taking your Cat to Veterinarian. It is for FYI of what to look for by informing you of some Signs and Symptoms to help keep your cat safe.***