Heart defect in cats: symptoms, treatment and prevention


Some heart diseases in cats are caused by a heart defect that can be genetic, that is to say acquired, or congenital. Depending on the type of abnormality, the animal can live without any problems. But there are also serious heart abnormalities which lead to serious complications over time. It is fundamental to recognize the symptoms that should alert so that the cat can be auscultated as quickly as possible because if its heart is no longer performing its functions, theeuthanasia may prove to be unavoidable.

The two categories of feline heart defects

A cat can present a genetic heart defect also said acquired heart defect, to know :

  • Pulmonary stenosis,
  • Aortic stenosis,
  • A malformation of the mitral valve or the valve located between the atrium and the ventricle, whether on the left or the right side,
  • CIA or Interatrial Communication, meaning that the septum (septum) by which the atria are separated from each other is not completely hermetic.

The second category includes congenital heart defects of the cat such as:

  • Mitral insufficiency: it occurs when the valve located between the left ventricle and the atrium is leaking. When valve leakage is limited, the animal may present with a heart murmur. On the other hand, if it is important, the cat risks heart failure.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DMC): the heart weakens and increases in size because the heart muscle contracts insufficiently. This heart defect is less common today because cat food is enriched with amino acids, especially taurine which is essential for small felines.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: this is a thickening of the left ventricular wall.

It is fundamental that every owner of a cat asks the veterinarian once a year to perform a checkup in order to check that the heart muscle of his little protege does not show any sign of abnormality.

Heart defect: symptoms and risks of aggravation

Some heart abnormalities due to a malformation do not necessarily cause symptoms, or sometimes they remain so inconspicuous that the owner of the animal cannot spot them. However, it should be noted that the heart murmur is the most common manifestation when the cat suffers from heart disease.

A heart murmur may be unexpected at first, but it is likely to worsen. In general, in the case of an acquired or congenital heart defect, the kitten shows moderate signs very early on, but which intensify over time. The owner can hear this breath when the heartbeat quickens, when the kitten plays for example, but the breath is again imperceptible as soon as the heart rate slows down.

Ofother symptoms occur when the cat suffers from serious anomaly in the heart muscle. It could be :

  • Breathing problems,
  • From weight loss,
  • Bloating in the abdomen,
  • Signs suggesting the presence of a thrombus (blood clot) which disrupts the flow of blood. The cat is at risk of thrombosis if the clot blocks an artery. The main ones symptoms of a blood clot are :
    • Always cold hind legs,
    • Pains,
    • Difficulty moving the hind limbs,
    • Paralysis,
    • A general condition affected.

Of course, if we have the slightest doubt, do not hesitate to talk to the vet. He will be able to auscultate the cat, and continue his investigations if he suspects a heart problem. Some veterinarians are specialists in cardiology animal.

Heart problems due to a malformation: what treatment in cats?

Before setting up a treatment protocol, the veterinarian cardiologist must begin with a diagnosis. To do this, he performs a cardiac examination with a stethoscope and then subjects the cat to a echocardiography. This is a completely painless ultrasound examination. Depending on the symptoms presented by the little feline, the specialist may also resort to a blood test, to one x-ray of the heart or even to a electrocardiogram (ECG).

It must also check the breathing rate of the cat in order to be able to detect a possible heart failure which may be due to a malformation. The permanent signs are great general weakness, shortness of breath, and rapid breathing while the animal is at rest. Note that the respiratory rate of a resting cat is considered normal when the heart movements are around 25 per minute. Beyond 30, heart failure may be suspected.

The treatment is of course decided on a case-by-case basis. When the cat is in a lot of pain because it is very badly affected and no medication can improve its quality of life, it may be better to opt foreuthanasia. This decision rests with the owner of the animal.

Heart defect in cats: prevention

The only way to prevent a heart defect in these pets and to rule out reproduction both males and females affected. Moreover, cat farms make their proteges undergo screening tests so that, if they test positive, these anomalies cannot be transmitted to their offspring.

When you want to go to a cat club or a cattery to buy a kitten, it is essential to be confirmed that it has been tested and that it does not present any heart problem. Finally, it is necessary pay attention to food that we give to our cat. A taurine deficiency puts him at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy. It is therefore essential to seek advice from the veterinarian, especially if it is decided to prepare yourself food for her little feline.

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