Heart disease is a severe health condition in dogs, cats, and humans. Cats, however, do not develop the typical signs of heart disease like humans and dogs. Heart disease in cats is divided into two categories, congenital and adult-onset forms. Mount Carmel Animal Hospital in Northern Baltimore County wants to inform you more about heart disease in cats.
Causes & Types
The heart defect is present at birth in congenital disease. Even though signs of this disease are frequently seen at a young age, they can go undetected for many years. Apart from a developmental problem, congenital heart disease in cats may involve a hereditary or genetic disorder. This may affect more than one kitty in the litter.
On the other hand, adult-onset heart disease can result due to damage to the heart structure at some time during the cat’s life. The most prevalent type of adult-onset disease in the cat is cardiomyopathy. This heart disease impacts the heart muscle. Although genetics and lifestyle might play a significant role, the exact cause of most types of adult-onset heart disease in cats is unknown. Signs & Symptoms
Unfortunately, most cats do not demonstrate any clinical signs until the heart disease has advanced. Unlike dogs and humans with heart disease, cats rarely cough if they have a heart condition. In addition, cats tend to withdraw more, hide under furniture and sleep more as their heart disease advances and exercise tolerance declines. The most prevalent signs of heart disease in cats are:
- Sudden collapse
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Stunted growth (kittens)
Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease
There is a blood test available that helps determine the health of the heart called a proBNP. This test assesses the presence of increased stretching and stress on the heart. Further testing might be advised to determine the cause based on the proBNP levels, presence of a murmur, and the degree of clinical signs. This typically involves electrical recording of the heart (ECG), x-rays, and ultrasound examination (echocardiography). Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, we can perform all these diagnostics and have them reviewed by a board-certified cardiologist through our reference laboratory.
The specific treatment will depend on the source of the heart disease. At this time, several congenital abnormalities in the cat can be surgically corrected. Also, diagnostic testing will determine the prognosis and whether medical treatment is necessary when a young cat is diagnosed with heart disease.
In many cases, careful monitoring is ideal if a heart murmur has been discovered on a routine exam but the kitten is not displaying problematic signs. This includes monitoring activity and appetite at home, annual examinations, and checking proBNP levels regularly. Further diagnostics may be required based on all other findings and any detection of disease progression. Keep in mind that the presence of a heart murmur doesn’t necessarily indicate that your cat’s life quality or life expectancy will be impacted! Many cats live long, healthy lives with heart murmurs.
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!