About 15% of the cat population suffers from some sort of heart disease in their lifetime. To save your beloved kitty from falling under this 15%, you must make sure to be acquainted with possible heart problems in cats and how to deal with them.
What is Heart Murmur in Cats?
A heart murmur is an abnormal sound noticed when listening to the heart using a stethoscope. If loud enough, heart murmurs can be felt as a vibration over the heart.
Causes of Heart Murmurs in Cats
Heart murmurs may be a sign that something is amiss with your cat’s heart. But, they can be benign too. This means that your cat does not have any type of cardiac illness; the heart murmur is merely present and does not influence the cat’s health. Such “innocent” murmurs tend to go away with time.
However, they can signal common heart illnesses like cardiomyopathy or heart muscle diseases. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cat cardiac disease (HCM). The muscle of the heart’s main pumping chamber thickens in this state, compared to a normal chamber. HCM can lead to life-threatening consequences, such as heart failure.
Heart murmurs may also occur due to other types of cardiomyopathy and inborn (congenital) heart defects.
On the flip side, heart murmurs might also be caused by something completely unrelated to the heart. Heart murmurs in felines may also happen in case of anemia, hyperthyroidism, infections, intestinal worm infestations, etc.
Symptoms of Heart Murmurs in Cats
Although heart murmurs are something that only your veterinarian can discover using a stethoscope, there are underlying symptoms that may suggest a veterinarian visit for your cat.
When heart murmurs are a result of heart disease, your cat may show the following symptoms:
- High respiratory rate
- Breathing with an open mouth
- Pale gums
- Weight loss
Diagnosis of Heart Murmurs in Cats
Heart murmurs are primarily detected by listening to a cat’s heart using a stethoscope.
If your vet detects heart murmurs, your veterinarian might carry out an echocardiogram (ultrasound) of your cat’s heart to assess its heart function and blood flow.
He may also recommend a blood test, x-ray, and blood pressure check to find out the underlying cause. This would suggest if the heart murmurs are due to HCM or some other underlying condition.
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Treatment & Prevention of Heart Murmurs in Cats
The path of treatment for a heart murmur is largely determined by its underlying cause. If the condition is due to a minor cardiac disease, your feline may not need the therapy right away.
For cats with serious heart problems, a thorough treatment plan is prescribed by the cardiologist. This includes diet changes, medicines, supportive care, etc.
But always go with the good old saying, “Prevention is better than treatment”. A routine appointment with your feline’s veterinarian is the only great way to rule out such diseases at an early stage.
Routine vet visits prevent significant complications and stressful emergencies. Be a team player to improve the quality and length of life of your cat by preventing any discomfort she may face.