Cat Heart Disease
“Heart disease” is a scary phrase, no matter who you are—and the last thing any pet owner wants is for their little fur-ball to be in pain. Understanding everything you can about heart disease, including symptoms and treatment options, is crucial to an early diagnosis for your pet.
Types of Heart Disease
There are two types of heart disease your cat could get: disease of the heart valves and disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathies). The former is most common in humans and dogs—if your cat has heart disease, it is most likely heart disease of the muscle. There are four classifications of this disease:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – this is the most common form of cat heart disease, and occurs when there is an increase in the thickness of the muscular wall of the heart.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) – this is when the muscular wall of the heart becomes thinner than usual and the heart enlarges, meaning it can’t contract effectively.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) – this occurs when there is fibrosis of the wall of the heart, making it stiff and inelastic.
- Intermediate cardiomyopathy (ICM) – this is when your cat experiences changes that are consistent with more than one type of disease.
You cannot be sure which type of heart disease your cat has without proper testing and a diagnosis from a trained professional. The experienced veterinarians at Germantown Vet can examine and diagnose your cat so a treatment plan can be created.
Call us today to set up an appointment (240-252-7467240-252-7467).
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Cats
No one wants to see their pet suffer—that’s why it’s so important to diagnose life-threatening conditions as early as possible. Unfortunately, many cats are asymptomatic until their heart begins to fail. When heart failure happens, they will exhibit signs such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased respiratory rate and effort
- Decrease appetite
- Bloated abdomen
- Swelling of the legs
- Cyanosis (purple coloration of the gums), if the heart failure is severe enough
If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s incredibly important to schedule an appointment with Germantown Vet right away! At our state-of-the-art facility, we have experienced veterinarians who are experts at identifying and diagnosing feline heart disease. Diagnosing the correct type of heart disease your cat has will be crucial in his or her treatment plan, and our highly skilled vets can combine a number of different testing methods in order to determine which type of heart disease your pet has.
Tests for Diagnosing Feline Heart Disease
Physical examination – When it comes to accurately diagnosing feline heart disease (or any condition), the first step will always be a thorough physical examination. This allows our veterinarians the chance to uncover any symptoms your cat is exhibiting that may suggest which type of heart disease your cat is suffering from. For instance, they can check for heart murmurs, evidence of fluid in the lungs or abdomen, and other signs.
During the physical examination, we will check your cat’s medical history and ask about his or her recent behavior, including lethargy, heavy breathing, coughing, etc. This information helps us fully understand your cat’s symptoms and makes it easier to diagnose feline heart disease.
X-ray – One of the most important diagnostic procedures when it comes to feline heart disease is a chest radiograph (x-ray). The x-ray can show if there are any abnormalities in the size or shape of your cat’s heart, large blood vessels, or any evidence of fluid in the lungs.
EKG or ECG – An electrocardiogram will measure the electrical activity of the heart, and it is the only type of diagnostic test that can detect heart arrhythmias.
NT-proBNP blood test – The NT-proBNP blood test can help determine whether the symptoms your cat is experiencing are due to feline heart disease or respiratory disease.
Identifying underlying cause – If testing is required to determine the underlying cause of feline heart disease, we may perform:
- Thyroid testing
- Heartworm testing
- Bacterial infection testing
- Taurine level testing
Schedule Your Physical Exam Today
If you believe your cat is exhibiting signs of cat heart disease, schedule your physical examination immediately. In most cases, a combination of testing will be required to accurately diagnose feline heart disease, and the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. At our state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, we have all the tools and diagnostic equipment necessary to identify your cat’s heart disease and begin treatment right away. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.