It is often said that cats have nine lives. But, do you know that your kitty can also suffer from a variety of heart conditions, ranging from benign to life-threatening? As surprising as it might sound, due to this reason, it is important to take care of your feline's health. One of the diseases that is most prevalent in cats is heart murmur. The important thing to note is not all heart murmurs are severe. Hence, if you suspect that your fur baby is suffering from heart murmurs, have her evaluated properly by your veterinarian, so that she can be treated, before the situation worsens. This would not only assist in prolonging the lifespan of your fur baby, but also ensure that she lives well beyond the nine lives!!!
While taking your furry companion to the vet's clinic, do not forget to ask these pertinent questions to the veterinarian about heart murmurs in felines:
Questions To Vet About Heart Murmurs in Cats
Q : What Exactly Is A Heart Murmur?
A: A heart murmur is an irregular heart sound, that is usually heard by listening to the heart using a stethoscope. A heart murmur happens when the blood flow in the heart becomes disruptive. There are several heart murmurs that are benign by nature. But not always, which in turn can further indicate heart disease or structural issues. There are kittens that display a murmur when they are approximately 6 to 8 weeks of age, but then outgrow within a few months. Even adult cats can suffer from intermittent heart murmurs, when their stress levels are high. But when the feline relaxes, the condition disappears.
Q: Explain Different Types Of Heart Murmurs In Cats?
A: There are specifically three types of murmurs:
A feline suffers from systolic heart murmurs when her heart muscle contracts, whereas diastolic heart murmurs are caused when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. Continuous heart murmurs prevail throughout the cardiac cycle. Heart murmurs can further be classified into different grades from I to V depending on their loudness and location. Grade I is the stage where the murmur is barely audible, while in grade V the murmur is extremely loud, but only audible through a stethoscope. But, the vibration is so strong that it can be felt through the chest wall of the feline.
Remember that the loudness of the murmur showcases the amount of turbulence prevailing in the heart of the kitty. But, also note that it does not directly correlate with the intensity of any underlying diseases.
Q: What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Murmurs?
A: The symptoms of heart murmurs are contingent on different factors encompassing configuration, grade and location. The symptoms can be non-existent to depicting serious signs of heart disease like shortness of breath or coughing.
Q: What Causes Heart Murmurs in Cats?
A: There are various factors that can cause heart murmurs in felines including:
Q: How Do You Diagnose Heart Murmurs?
A: Your veterinarian would use a stethoscope to detect heart murmur during routine veterinary examination. If he/she finds an abnormal rhythm in the heartbeat of finds that your feline has a weak pulse, then murmur can be the most probable reason for it. A cat that is suffering from a heart murmur due to structural heart disease or an extra cardiac problem will also show various clinical signs, which might be subtle in the beginning, but as the disease progresses, the signs will become more prominent.
If the murmur is caused by heart disease, then additional diagnostic testing would be carried out and may or may not include treatment by a cardiologist. If it is found that the murmur is caused due to an underlying heart condition, an NT-proBNP test would be recommended by your veterinarian. It is a simple blood test that is used to find, examine and assess the severity of heart disease. It can even be used to locate the stress placed on the heart and any damage in it. An increased level in the proBNP levels suggests that the kitty is suffering from heart disease.
Q: How Are Heart Murmurs Treated?
A: The treatment is totally contingent on the underlying cause. If you have a young kitten who has a murmur of low intensity, your veterinarian would recommend a re-examination in a few weeks, to evaluate whether the murmur has altered in intensity / totally disappeared. In adult cats, the severity of the murmur would determine the treatment which might involve treatments, radiographs, and a trip to the cardiologist for further testing.
Remember, a healthy cat is a happy cat. So, always get essential cat supplies and keep your feline physically fit.