As a pet owner, one of the best things you can do for your cat or dog is to take them to the veterinarian for regular checkups, allowing early detection of life-threatening diseases such as heart disease. Heart disease is a severe medical condition that can significantly impact the health of cats and dogs, although it’s more common in dogs than in cats. Continue reading to learn more about the causes, types, signs, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease in cats.
Causes and Types
Heart disease can be split into two categories, congenital and adult-onset.
Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is a heart defect caused by development problems that can affect the heart of a kitten at birth. Typically, congenital heart disease will only affect a single kitten out of the litter. However, if congenital heart disease involves a genetic or hereditary disorder, multiple kittens in the litter may be affected. Signs of congenital heart disease can be detected at a young age or can go undetected for many years. The two most common types of congenital heart disease are malformations of a valve or a septal defect in the wall separating the left and right sides of the heart. Both cause blood to flow abnormally through the defect, causing turbulence and creating heart murmurs in cats.
Adult-onset Heart Disease
Adult-onset heart disease or acquired heart disease causes abnormal heart function due to damage to the heart structure that occurs at some time during your cat’s lifespan. Some cases of adult-onset heart disease can be triggered by a hereditary condition that progresses as your cat ages, eventually causing significant health problems. Adult-onset hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common type of heart disease in cats. It affects the heart muscle, and its exact cause is unknown, but genetics and lifestyle can play a significant role.
Clinical signs of heart disease in cats often go unnoticed until the disease is advanced. Listed below are some of the most common signs of heart disease in cats:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sudden paralysis in rear legs
- Stunted growth in kittens
- Increased respiratory rate
If you think your cat is exhibiting signs of heart disease, it’s important to contact us immediately to determine a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital (MCAH), we can diagnose heart disease in your fur baby by performing a full cardiac workup that consists of various diagnostics and tests, including:
- Physical exam
- Blood pressure evaluation
- Blood analysis
Once your cat has been diagnosed with heart disease, we can formulate a medical regimen that best accommodates their heart condition, helping manage and treat their symptoms, making them healthier and more comfortable. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for heart disease, but many cats live long, happy, and comfortable lives while maintaining a healthy diet and medications.
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!