Congenital Heart Disease in Cats. Heart related diseases are very dangerous for cats, dogs, and humans. But the difference is that cats often don’t develop diseases common to humans suffering from heart diseases. Heart diseases are divided into two; congenital heart disease & adult-onset heart disease. Concerning congenital heart diseases, heart defects are present from the day it is born, and the signs show at young age. A few cases may go undetected many years later even up to adult age.
The adult-onset category occurs due to damages caused to the heart structure. It will hinder the normal functioning of the heart. In some instances, adult-onset heart diseases result from hereditary conditions. It may progress with the aging of a cat and eventually causes heart problems at a later age. Cardiomyopathy is one of the common adult-onset types of heart disease that affects the heart muscles. Causes of adult-onset heart diseases are unknown but lifestyle and genetics are believing to be the major contributor to heart failures in cats. In some instances, they may also develop as secondary heart problems. The main problem resides in other areas such as thyroid glands and more.
Heart structure and how it can be affected
The heart is dividing into four functional components namely; heart muscle whose main function is to pump blood throughout the body, heart valves that allow blood to flow in the right direction, pericardium a tough membrane that surround the heart providing external protection to the heart. Finally, an electrically conducting system that initiates and transfers impulses for coordinated and systematic heartbeats. Heart diseases can affect any of the mentioned functional components above which are vital for proper heart functioning.
Is heart disease common in cats?
Not at all. Compared to dogs, heart diseases are less common in cats. Hypertrophic is common in cats as adult-onset heart disease. (Thickening or enlargement)
Congenital Heart Disease in Cats
How can a cat parent know that their cat is suffering a heart disease? It will be difficult to know that your cat is suffering from heart disease because most cats don’t show any clinical signs early, you will only notice at later stages. Do not expect cats to cough or show other signs of heart disease, unlike humans or dogs. Although they may experience exercise intolerance, it will be difficult for the owners to notice because more often, cats don’t participate too much in prolonged physical activities. While the disease advances, there will be a decline in exercise tolerance in your feline. They tend to withdraw more often or stay in their hideouts like under furniture or under bed and feel sleepy most of the time.
What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure in cats?
Your cat will begin losing appetite and even run away when it is time to feast even if it is their favorite meal. With the loss of appetite, your cat will start losing weight drastically. She may also experience lethargy and respiratory rate increases; you will also notice that your cat is breathing with a lot of effort. Sometimes your cat may collapse suddenly an indication that he is suffering from heart disease. Your cat may suddenly paralyze on their hind leg accompanied by thrilling pain because of blood clot through thromboembolism or saddle thrombus. If you are dealing with kittens, stunted growth should send shivers down the spine because it may be a clear indication that the kitten is suffering from heart disease.
Congenital disease in cats
There are two types of congenital heart diseases in cats namely; valve or septal defects in the walls between left and right side or the one commonly known as a hole-in-the-heart. In both scenarios, the blood flow becomes abnormal when they pass through the defect in the heart causing turbulence. This turbulence causes heart murmur often detected on the physical examination routine. We cannot conclusively attest that loudness in murmur indicate how severe the condition is. Some cats may experience heart murmur with other diseases like anemia or when under psychological stress.
How to diagnose congenital heart diseases in cats
Clinical signs or murmur of the heart in your cat is a clear sign that you need to take it further. Taking it further means undertaking some tests like ECG or echo-cardiology to unravel the cause. If your vet suspects the murmur to be caused by secondary ailments, you are advised to take further extensive tests to clear the doubts and to know exactly what your cat is suffering from.
How to treat congenital heart diseases
The treatment for congenital heart diseases will depend on the cause of heart disease. Few congenital heart diseases are corrected through heart surgery while most are treated with administration of drugs. The presence of a heart murmur is not necessarily an indication that the quality of your cat’s life will be affected.
Common heart diseases adult cats get Cardiomyopathy is a common heart problem adult cats risk getting. Heart disease that affects the valves is rare in adult cats. Several heart conditions will affect the rhythm of the heartbeat in cats. Some of these cases require drugs to restore heartbeat rate and rhythm. If your cat is diagnosing with any form of heart disease, it is important to maintain their body weight and ensure their diet contains plenty of amino acid and taurine to prevent dilated cardiomyopathy. If the heart disease your cat is suffering from is associating with hypertension, it will be helpful to maintain low salt levels in their diet. You can include dietary supplements with the recommendation of the veterinarian if need be.
If a prescription for drugs is offered for the treatment, make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the day and avoid abrupt withdrawal. It will have adverse effects on your cat’s health. Replenish the prescription early before they run out and strictly follow the administration guidelines. You are encouraged to discuss thoroughly with your vet how to administer the drugs and feel free to ask when in doubt.
Congenital Heart Disease in Cats Video