Heart Disease In Cats: Real Stories of Detection, Treatment, and Recovery

Heart disease in cats is a hidden danger. It can lurk unnoticed, showing no signs until it has advanced. Whether you have an active outdoor cat or a more sedentary indoor companion, understanding heart disease is crucial.

This article will shed light on this common but often undetected ailment. You'll learn about the symptoms, discover the breeds more prone to heart problems, and find out what real cat owners have experienced.

Get ready to equip yourself with the knowledge that can make a vital difference in your furry friend's life.

The Silent Threat of Heart Disease in Cats

Heart disease is an invisible menace to cats. It hides itself well, showing no clear symptoms until it has already reached a serious stage. This hidden danger is especially tricky to spot in more sedentary, indoors-only cats where significant changes in pulse might not be evident.

The risk of heart disease is not confined to certain ages; it can affect cats both young and old. In some cases, it's even present at birth.

Certain breeds, such as the Maine Coon, Bengal, Persian, and Ragdolls, have been identified as being more susceptible. Interestingly, orange male cats also seem to be more prone to heart issues.

Heart disease is not limited to older cats. Forum member Queenofcats81 says her cat Ollie was diagnosed with an enlarged heart when he was only four years old. In fact, heart disease can be congenital and present at the time of birth.

According to The Cornell Book of Cats, Siamese cats seem more prone to congenital heart defects.

Heart Disease in Cats: The Symptoms

Here are the symptoms to watch for:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Labored breathing, more from the stomach than the chest area
  • Coughing

Real Stories: Living with Heart Murmurs

Kmd’s nine-year-old tuxedo cat, Elmo, was diagnosed with a heart murmur. He was fine for a year but then showed a lack of interest in food and had trouble breathing.

The veterinarian prescribed two kinds of medication (combined in capsule form and given with the help of a pill popper), which helped for almost eight months.


“Heart murmurs can come and go but you should keep checking and do an ultrasound,” says Dr. Cindy Houlihan, owner of The Cat Practice in Birmingham, Michigan. “Also, larger male cats are more likely to have heart disease, especially purebreds.”

From Heart Murmurs to Cardiomyopathy: Case Studies

Threecatnight’s cat was very young - only six months old - when his vet discovered a heart murmur and cardiomyopathy. A twice-daily vitamin, Lasix, and heart medications helped him live to the age of seven, at least four years longer than his original prognosis.

Jade, who lives with cbuehner, was found to have a heart murmur at age three. She was treated and remained in good health until she had a heart attack at age fourteen.

A prescription of Furosemide has kept Jade going to age sixteen, with no further problems.

Aortic Thromboembolism and Other Conditions

Heart murmurs are not the only disease cats get. DrBobCat’s kitty suffered aortic thromboembolism which is a blood clot in the aorta.

“My cat suddenly started screaming and then dragging her rear legs. She had not been diagnosed with any heart problems.” Even with morphine, the cat was still in pain and paralyzed. Since these clots tend to recur, a long-term prognosis was poor. Due to the extreme pain, the cat was euthanized.

Prevention, Early Diagnosis, and Medication

Irregular heartbeats are something that Flaco has lived with all his life. SweetSally2 says her vet gives Flaco a clean bill of health each year and at age fourteen, he’s doing fine.

“Prevention and early diagnosis are paramount,” says Dr. Houlihan. “Regular veterinary visits, heart screening, and for breeders, genetic testing to see if the cat is a carrier for heart-related problems, can help.”

Medication can help reduce the workload on the heart by improving the oxygenation of the blood.

Specific treatment protocols vary according to the severity and type of heart disease. If a heart disease is caught early, medication can help cats live longer, more comfortably.

Treatment and Medication Options for Heart Disease in Cats

Understanding how to care for a cat with heart disease is just as important as recognizing the symptoms. Treatment can vary widely based on the specific type of heart problem and its severity.

Medication can make a real difference, helping to reduce the heart's workload and improve the oxygen flow in the blood.

In some cases, as with Kmd's cat Elmo, the combination of medication and regular veterinary check-ups can manage the disease for a considerable time.

But being proactive is key. Regular visits to your vet, heart screening, and even genetic testing for breeders can be essential in early diagnosis and effective treatment.

Coping with Heart Conditions: Real Stories from Cat Owners

The experiences shared by cat owners in this article are a valuable reminder that heart disease can affect any cat.

From heart murmurs to aortic thromboembolism, the stories reflect the different faces of this condition.

Whether it's the courage of Jade, who has been kept going to age sixteen thanks to medication, or the tragic loss faced by DrBobCat, these real-life situations illustrate the importance of vigilance, early detection, and proper care.

Conclusion: Protecting Your Cat from Heart Disease

Heart disease in cats doesn't have to be a silent killer. With the right information, you can be on the lookout for hidden signs and know what to do if you suspect a problem.

Regular check-ups with your vet, awareness of the symptoms, and an understanding of the breeds more prone to heart issues can go a long way in ensuring the well-being of your furry companion.

Remember, early detection and prevention are paramount. Equip yourself with the knowledge shared in this article, and you'll be taking a big step towards providing a happy, healthy life for your cat.

Don't let heart disease catch you unawares. Be proactive, be informed, and most importantly, be there for your cat.

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6 comments on “Heart Disease In Cats: Real Stories of Detection, Treatment, and Recovery

Vicky1223 April 18, 2021
My cat, Lala, March, last year was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism. She was treated with Radioiodine. She never was put in any supplements. This year, also in March, she was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. I was never told by either vet, the specialist, or her regular vet, anything about the probabilities of her developing HCM and CHF, if I would have known I would have asked her regular vet to check her heart too, or I would have taken her to Florida Veterinary Cardiology, which is close to me. Something for everyone to know in case you ever face something like this.
Sunshine76 February 28, 2020
I lost my cat at exactly 1 year old, from cardiomyopathy. I was told that it may have been genetic and there wasn't a cure. Unfortunately, I didn't find out she had this disease until I took her for a second opinion. I started taking her to the vet (at 5 months old) due to her chin (first thought as feline acne or an allergy to food ingredients). Everything we tried, would start to help and then we were right back to square one. After finding out what she had, I do recall her breathing was faster than my other cats, she liked to hide under my chair, she had a heart murmur, and she had pneumonia at only 7 weeks old. After 7 months of treating her symptoms, xrays were taken and fluid was found in her lungs and in her abdomen. The very next day, she started to struggle to breathe and sadly I had to let her go and not let her suffer any longer. It broke my heart that I not only had to say goodbye, but knowing her short life, she had an illness, took medicine most of her life, and suffered at the end. I'm sharing all of this because all of her symptoms in the beginning, no one even suspected they were caused by a heart disease. I don't wish it on anyone or kitten/cat, but I want to share her symptoms to maybe help others, so they can maybe help their cat sooner than I was able to.
    Furballsmom March 27, 2020
    @sunshine76 thank you so much for sharing your story, we appreciate it very much.
mservant May 22, 2015
Great article and one all cat companions should read.   One of my previous cats developed high blood pressure as she aged. Just as silent as it is with humans she had significantly lost her sight and had some kidney damage by the time I thought something was up and took her to the vet.   Her kidney function improved with medication but her sight was gone.   It all happened within 6 months of her annual vet check.
nurseangel May 15, 2015
Thank you for the article.  DH and I were completely blindsided when we took Daisy to the vet for what we thought was an upper respiratory infection and it turned out that she has congestive heart failure.  
linda rae March 27, 2013
I hope every cat lover and owner reads this article and acts upon its information. Make sure you are doing everything for your kitty to help keep it's heart working even if it takes medication. Also be aware kitties are prone to kidney problems so it is essential kitties get their annual check ups to catch life altering diseases early and while treatable to ensure a longer and happier and healthier lifetime to share with you. I do not know if dogs can suffer from the same thromboembolisms, but can have heart problems. Get your dog to the vet for its annual checkups also.

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