Feline Congestive Heart Failure

Feline congestive heart failure is a condition that’s caused by an abnormal structure of the heart, which makes it unable to pump blood throughout a cat’s body.

Feline Congestive Heart Failure Explained

When a cat’s has congestive heart failure, the walls of the heart thicken and the components of the organ are abnormally shaped. As a result, the heart doesn’t pump blood efficiently and a cat’s body doesn’t receive the proper amount of oxygen it needs. Blood then backs up in the veins and lungs, thus making the heart weaker. When a cat’s heart fails it causes stress on the other organs in his body. Cats of any breed and age are affected by this disease.

There are four stages of cat heart disease: A, B, C and D. In stage A, a cat has heart disease, but doesn’t have any symptoms. Stage B is when heart disease is present, but there aren’t any occurring symptoms. In stage C, heart disease symptoms have manifested themselves. Stage D is when a cat is experiencing congestive heart failure and treatment is necessary.

Causes and Symptoms of Feline Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure in a cat has a variety of different causes. A cat may be genetically predisposed to the condition or he could have be born with or acquire a heart problem that lead to congestive heart failure like, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, a diseased pericardium, congenital birth defects of the heart and degeneration of the heart valves. Parasites like heartworm can lead to congestive heart failure along with anemia, kidney failure, and a blood clot.

Symptoms of congestive heart failure in a cat include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and a cough because of fluid that has built up in the lungs or chest cavity. As a result, a cat will not be able to ability to maintain a high activity level as he would tire easily. This disease can also affect a cat’s pulse and cause a change in blood pressure. Other symptoms include a fever, vomiting and anemia.

Diagnosing and Treating Feline Congestive Heart Failure

If one suspects a cat to have congestive heart failure, a vet can run the following tests to confirm a diagnosis: physical exam and history, x-ray, ultrasound, electrocardiogram, and blood and urine tests.

Treatment will vary based upon the stage of the disease. Medications often prescribed to a cat with congestive heart failure are diuretics, nitroglycerin, enzyme and ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Diuretics help reduce the buildup of fluid in a cat’s body. ACE inhibitors improve the function of the ventricles, which will increase blood flow through the body. Beta blockers help improve the function of the left ventricle, which will increase blood flow. Calcium channel blockers slow down the rate in which calcium passes through the heart muscle and into the vessel walls. As a result, the vessels let blood flow through them more easily.

There is no cure for feline congestive heart failure. However, if a cat is diagnosed and treated early, his life will be improved and more comfortable.