Cat Heart Disease

The heart of the cat is a vital organ, in charge of pumping blood, nutrients and oxygen to the rest of the cat’s body. Cats can acquire heart disease, especially at an older age.

The Feline Heart

The feline heart is in charge of pumping nutrient filled blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. The heart has 4 chambers: 2 atriums and 2 ventricles. The chambers will contract and pump the blood to the lungs, where the blood takes the oxygen and is then transported to the rest of the body: the brain, the kidneys, stomach and the liver. This is a continual circuit, and the proper function of the heart is essential for the cat’s health.

Types of Heart Diseases

Heart diseases in cats can be of 2 types:

  • Inherited (genetic diseases present when the cat is born)
  • Acquired (occurs during life)

Heart problems may involve a number of things:

  • The heart valves may be leaking or may not allow enough blood to be supplied to the entire body
  • The muscle walls between the 4 chambers may weaken or have holes, which will affect the amount of blood pumped to the vital organs

The most common heart disease in cats is the feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which affects the muscle of the heart; the muscle is weaker and cannot be filled with blood. This leads to a lower amount of blood in the chambers and less blood will be pumped in the body. If there is not enough blood and oxygen reaching the brain, the cat can experience fainting and breathing problems.

Causes of Heart Disease

If the heart disease is not inherited, it may be linked to several factors including obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension) and hyperthyroidism. Heart disease is more common in middle aged or senior cats, and more males are affected than females. Some breeds are more prone to heart disease.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Heart disease in cats will manifest as following:

  • Fainting due to the lack of oxygen pumped to the brain
  • Breathing problems, shortness of breath due to the accumulation of blood in the heart and the incapacity of the heart to send all the blood to the rest of the body
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Heart murmur
  • Changes in the heart rhythm

In some cases, these symptoms are absent and the cat may suddenly get paralysis due to a blood clot or even die without warning.

Treating Heart Disease

If you notice any symptoms of heart disease in your cat, you should get a proper diagnosis.

The treatment should take into consideration the state of the other vital organs. The medication will differ according to the condition of the cat, and will focus on making it easier for the heart to pump the blood. Aspirin can also be administered to prevent blood clotting.

A heart condition in cats cannot be treated, but a cat can live a quality life if properly medicated and taken care of. Early detection of the disease can increase the life expectancy of your cat.