Feline Heart Disease: Watch For The Signs

14 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Cats are prone to so many of the same diseases as humans, and heart disease is no exception. In fact, cats can develop cardiomyopathy, or heart disease, over the span of their lives. Unfortunately cats tend to be stoic creatures, so they don't show signs of discomfort in the early stages. Learn to watch for signs of heart disease to prevent your cat from getting sick.

Types of Cardiomyopathy

Several types of cardiomyopathy exist in cats, but two are more common than others. Dilated cardiomyopathy is basically an enlarged heart. The chambers become enlarged, which reduces their capacity for pumping blood.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is similar in that the muscles of the heart thicken, which also reduces the heart's ability to pump blood. This heart disease is the most common one for cats, according to Healthy Pets.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy exhibits characteristics of the other two. The heart tissue develops fibrosis, or scar tissue. The scar tissue causes the walls to become stiff, which inhibit the heart's ability to pump.

Warning Signs

Naturally, you're not going to diagnose your cat's heart disease on your own. However, if you watch for the signs, you can take your cat to the vet early on in the disease's progression.

Vomiting is one sign of heart disease – it's a sign of a lot of things, including hair balls and overzealous food consumption. However, if you notice your cat seems to be vomiting more often, take him to the vet.

Difficulty breathing or panting and fainting are all signs that your cat needs a trip to the emergency pet hospital. Again, either of these symptoms are indicative of any number of health issues, but they all need to be diagnosed by a vet.

Probably the earliest sign you'll notice is lethargy. Yes, cats sleep a large part of their lives away. However, if you notice your cat is exhibiting reluctance to play or move around, it could be a sign that the blood isn't pumping well in his or her body.

Loss of appetite and weight loss are also signs of cardiomyopathy in cats.

Risk Factors

Any cat at any age can develop heart disease, though cardiomyopathy is rare in kittens. As Healthy Pets points out, though, the condition often develops midlife.

Certain breeds of cat are more prone to heart disease than others, according to Pet Health Network. This includes the sphinx, American shorthair, Maine coon, ragdoll, Persian and Siamese.

Other causes of cardiomyopathy in cats include hyperthyroidism, kidney failure and a dietary deficiency of taurine, though this is rare.

Cats with heart disease can live well if the disease is caught early. Talk to a professional vet, like those at Animal Emergency Clinic, about regular screening for cardiomyopathy, especially if your cat has one of these risk factors.