Heart disease in cats is usually caused by a condition called cardiomyopathy. In this syndrome, the muscles of the heart become incapable of performing normally. As cardiomyopathy grows it may lead to heart failure which is the inability of the heart to circulate blood normally through the body or further serious consequences.
For the most part, heart disease in cats is hereditary. Maine Coons, Persians, and Siamese cats are at increased risk. Senior cats are more likely to suffer from advanced heart disease than young cats. Few cases of heart disease in cats are linked to diet, lifestyle, or home care. Regrettably, cardiomyopathy is progressive. Most cases of feline heart disease do not show signs of strong response to treatment. Although some cats with cardiomyopathy never show indications or develop heart failure, others die from the condition.
Cats with mild heart disease often do not show any symptoms of illness. As the disease advances, however, signs of heart failure may develop swiftly. Signs of heart failure include: coughing, difficulty breathing or rapid breathing, weakness, lethargy, weight loss and decreased appetite. Hyperthyroidism can add to and exacerbate heart disease in cats.
Some cats with heart disease suffer abrupt paralysis of one or both hind legs. For other cats, the first indicator of heart disease is sudden death.
A diet with insufficient amounts of the amino acid taurine has been connected to one type of cardiomyopathy in cats. High quality commercial diets in urban countries are supplemented with taurine. Therefore, diet-related cardiomyopathy is very infrequent in developed countries.
Some cats with mild cardiomyopathy never build up symptoms or suffer consequences from the disease. Sadly, many others eventually develop heart failure. Many felines with cardiomyopathy die as a result of the condition.
Cardiomyopathy can cause blood clots to develop in the heart and then flow into the rear legs of cats. This leads to unexpected paralysis of one or both hind legs. This serious complication is enormously painful and difficult to treat. A lot of cats are euthanized after suffering this complication.
Cats with heart disease are at amplified risk of complications from anesthesia.
Cats with cardiomyopathy have trouble tolerating stress. They may yield to stress from car travel, heat, grooming, or veterinary procedures. Cats with heart disease sometimes die unexpectedly from acute massive heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy is diagnosed through a combination of physical examination and diagnostic tests which include X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), and ultrasound (echocardiogram). Blood and urine tests typically are run to evaluate for thyroid disease and other concomitant illnesses.
A number of cats with heart disease have a heart murmur that can be spotted during a physical exam. Many others, conversely, exhibit no outward signs of disease. Because of this, many cases of cardiomyopathy are not established until the disease is advanced.
Cats with heart disease should never be placed in traumatic situations. They should not be exposed to extreme heat.
Medications are regularly prescribed to improve the function of the heart. Medications used for this purpose include, atenolol, diltiazem propanolol, benazepril and enalapril.
Cats in heart failure may receive medications like furosemmide (Lasix®) to eradicate fluid from the lungs. Fluid-filled areas of the abdomen or chest may be drained manually by veterinarians.
Tiny quantities of aspirin may be prescribed to lessen the likelihood of blood clot formation and paralysis of the hind legs. If there, thyroid disease is treated to reduce its effects on the heart.
Even though some cats show clinical improvement when treatment is implemented, many others do not show a manifest response to the treatments mentioned above. Because of this, treatment of heart disease in felines is frequently trying and unfulfilling.
For cats with warning signs of heart failure, success of therapy is based mainly upon its effect on the symptoms.
Cats with heart disease necessitate follow-up X-rays and echocardiograms at intermittent intervals. Regular blood tests are suggested to assess the function of other organs in the body.
Cats with cardiomyopathy do not put up with stress well. They occasionally suffer complications during veterinary procedures. Owing to this, veterinarians are not able to carry out full diagnostic evaluations on all cats with heart disease.