Diagnosing Feline Heart Disease

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:


  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • 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 and large blood vessels and if there is evidence of fluid in the lungs.

Ultrasound – In order to diagnose feline heart disease, we can also perform an echocardiogram (ultrasonic examination) for your pet’s heart. This will allow a visualization of how the individual heart structures are functioning—that way we can determine if there are any disturbances to the natural flow of blood through the heart and if the valves are functioning properly.

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 feline 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.

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