Cat Heart Disease Symptoms

Cat heart disease is mostly genetically inherited. Heart disease occurs in varying stages based on the severity. Since it's difficult to diagnose the underlying cause of feline heart disease, the treatment options depend on clinical signs.

Types of Feline Heart Failure

Feline heart failure occurs when the heart stops pumping enough blood to support the body. Heart failure can be either left heart failure or right heart failure. Left heart failure occurs when blood pressure increases in the pulmonary system causing pulmonary edema. Right heart failure occurs when the right ventricle fails. This is known as congestive heart failure.

Symptoms of Left Heart Failure

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Symptoms of Right Heart Failure
  • Accumulation of abdominal fluid
  • Arterial enlargement
  • Dropsy or swelling of the limbs

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM is a condition that causes thickening of the heart muscles and it's likely to occur in certain breeds that are genetically predisposed. HCM is often related to hyperthyroidism in cats. Since there is no known cure for pets suffering from HCM it's important to diagnose and monitor the symptoms of HCM to prevent sudden death.

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

  • Dyspnea or difficulty breathing
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Syncope
  • Weakness and limb paralysis
  • Heart murmur
  • Increased pulse

Stages of Heart Disease

There are different stages of heart disease termed as Stage A, B, C and D. Pets in stage A don't exhibit symptoms of heart disease while those in stage D show many symptoms of feline heart disease.

Stage A and B

Cats that are genetically predisposed to heart disease are closely monitored as they may experience stage A, heart disease without exhibiting any symptoms. Breeds that require attention include British and American shorthair and Maine Coon cats. Pets diagnosed with stage B heart disease are prescribed medication when heart disease is confirmed even though symptoms may not be present.

Stage C

Cats in stage C heart disease experience difficulty breathing due to arterial enlargement or insufficient blood flow. The vet will conduct diagnostic test to check the severity of disease and prescribe heart medication to keep the disease from progressing.

Stage D

Cats with stage D heart disease require long term medication to prevent heart failure. The treatment is based on the clinical symptoms recorded. Cats with rapid heartbeat are prescribed drugs such as Diltiazem. Other drugs may also be used to treat fluid accumulation and heart changes.

Monitoring Pets with Feline Heart Disease

Cats are known to mask symptoms of illness. Heart disease can progress very slowly and lead to severe damage or death. Pet owners should monitor predisposed breeds and particularly watch for weight loss and loss of appetite. Two other vital signs are difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. Pets that are sick appear listless and lethargic. The sooner heart disease is diagnosed, the better are the cat's chances of survival and longer life.

Although cat heart disease may not be completely cured in some pets, it can be well managed with medication and proper home care.