Understanding Feline Cardiomyopathy

Feline cardiomyopathy also known as feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (hcm) is a disease that affects the heart muscle. The walls of the heart become enlarged and this may lead to complications including heart failure.

Symptoms of HCM

Feline cardiomyopathy can pass unnoticed, however in some cats there might be symptoms such as:

  • lethargy and fatigue
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • depression

Cats with HCM often have also heart murmur, a condition that will persist even if/after the feline cardiomyopathy is treated.

Causes of Feline Cardiomyopathy

Even if the causes of feline cardiomyopathy are not yet determined, it is believed that the disease has a genetic origin. This is why cats diagnosed with the HCM gene shouldn't be allowed to breed.

Treatment of Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be treated if detected in the early stages. However, the symptoms may be absent or not necessarily indicative of HCM, so it is difficult to identify the disease.

Blood thinner medications are prescribed to delay the enlargement of the heart walls. The cat may get baby aspirin once or twice per week. Be careful, because typically baby aspirin is fatal to cats, but cats with HCM may get aspirin as a blood thinner.

Beta blockers may also help in lowering the blood pressure. The vet may prescribe athenolol or lasix.

Diuretics, such as cardizen may also be administered.

The vet may prescribe some vitamin E and B complex vitamin supplements.

Diet and Care

You also need to give special attention to your cat. Make sure he has a warm room but not overly heated and humid.

Talk to your vet about a special diet which may be recommended for a sick cat. High-taurine foods are recommended for cats with cardiomyopathy. Taurine is important for a normal heart muscle function, digestion and vision. Taurine is present in animal-based proteins. Dry cat food should contain animal based proteins, however your vet may recommend you to prepare special formula foods for your cat at home. You may include oatmeal, steamed vegetables such as broccoli or carrots and cooked liver in the cat's diet.

You must avoid adding salt or salty foods in the sick cat's diet, to prevent water retention.

The cat should only do low intensity exercises; exercise is important and may help the cat live a longer and healthier life.


HCM can lead to heart failure and cats with this condition have a low life expectancy that doesn't exceed 2 years after diagnosis. Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump the needed amount of blood to the organs and tissues in the cat's body.

If the feline cardiomyopathy is detected in the early stages, HCM may be treated.

Even after the cat is treated, you must look out for weakness or even paralysis of the back limbs, which can be triggered by blood cloths. The blood cloths are also known as saddle thrombosis. These may be fatal to the cat.