What Causes Heart Problems in Cats?
Every mammal with a heart can be at risk for developing heart problems, including cats. For a cat owner, the diagnosis of a heart condition in their pet can be especially worrying, and this often leads the cat’s owner into wondering how the problem could have developed in the first place.
The primary cause of heart disease in cats is a condition known as cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the muscles of the heart are unable to perform as they’re supposed to and makes it difficult for blood to flow to other parts of the body.
What Causes Cardiomyopathy in Felines?
Currently, there is no single absolute cause of cardiomyopathy known. But, research does suggest that certain conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypertension play a role. What is also known is that some breeds of cats are more genetically predisposed to heart disease.
At-risk breeds include Maine Coon Cats, Siamese, and Persians. Mature cats are also higher at risk than young cats and kittens. Additional risk factors that can cause cardiomyopathy include:
- Heart valve deficiencies or blockages
- Blood clots in the heart
- Heartworm disease
- Fluid in the sac around the heart
- Defects in the heart walls
- Irregular heartbeat or heart murmur
Does a Cat’s Lifestyle Impact Heart Problem Risks?
A cat’s risk of developing heart disease typically isn’t impacted positively or negatively by her lifestyle at home. A cat’s diet, exercise, and home care rarely factor into the development of cardiomyopathy.
Signs Your Cat Might Have a Heart Problem
When a cat has cardiomyopathy, her body will be able to compensate for the heart’s weakened state for a while. But, cardiomyopathy is a progressive condition and over time, the heart muscles will become so weak that blood will start backing up instead of flowing through the body.
When this occurs, the blood will start collecting in the lungs, resulting in congestive heart failure. The most common signs associated with heart problems in cats include:
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing difficulties
- Blue or gray tongue, gums, footpads, and/or nail beds
- Paralysis of one or both hind limbs
- Sudden death
How Are Heart Problems Diagnosed in Cats?
If you think your cat might be suffering from a heart problem, you should take her to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. The vet will conduct a thorough review of the cat’s medical history and a complete physical examination. Blood and urine tests will be performed and in most cases, an electrocardiogram (EKG) test will be done. Other tests may include a radiograph and an ultrasound.
If your cat is positively diagnosed with cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure, then she will most likely be hospitalized and placed on oxygen therapy. She may also be prescribed medications to help improve the performance of her heart. Common medications prescribed for heart problems in cats can include diltiazem, aspirin, warfarin, furosemide, spironolactone, and nitroglycerin ointment.
If your veterinarian prescribes your cat medications to help treat her heart problems, you can get your medications compounded by Diamondback Drugs in easy-to-administer pet-friendly formulations. Get a free quote today!
Author: Giano Panzarella