1 year old just diagnosed with heart murmur

lucicat

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I'd love to hear from anyone with experience! My healthy 1.5 year old cat was found to have a heart murmur at her well check yesterday. Grade 3. It was not heard when she was a kitten.
The vet did say it could possibly be from the stress of being at the vet, but she suggested we go see a veterinary cardiologist for a heart ultrasound to really know what's going on. I really would like to do that follow-up, but it's going to cost around $600 it looks like! Ack.
 

theyremine

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My vet heard a murmur when I took my Pedro for his Wellness check after I first adopted him. He needed dental work so she recommended an ultrasound. She thought it was a 3. I got him from the rescue I volunteer for and I was advised "if she hears a 3, it's probably a 2". I wanted him to be safe so I took no chances and had the ultrasound and the murmur turned out to be a 2 and would be no problem during surgery.
In your case since there is no hurry, I might adopt a "wait and see" approach. Take her to the vet again in awhile and see what happens. I might even ask for a different vet. I myself was told by a NP that she heard a murmur. My MD didn't hear it. Nor did the cardiologist I saw. If the second vet confirms a murmur than I would think hard about the ultrasound just in case she ever needs any kind of surgery. Good luck.
 

Okatoma

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If you can afford the visit, it makes sense to go, but if you can't it's also totally understandable - that's a lot of money! Each situation is different, of course, and that initial EKG with a specialist can provide a lot of info about how serious the murmur might be. Specialists might be willing to work out a payment option of some sort though?

I can only speak from my own experiences, but my 8 year old kitty Aavaq was diagnosed with a grade 3 heart murmur on a checkup about 2 years ago. I was moving and didn't have time to follow through on that diagnosis, but I moved the poor guy 4000 miles (and like 9 hotel rooms later) and then took him to another vet. That vet said she thought she heard a grade 4 heart murmur. I scheduled an EKG with a heart specialist and the specialist confirmed heart disease (mild cardiomyopathy), but classified the murmur as a stage 2 and said she would only think medication was necessary if it progressed, which she wasn't sure it would. I now schedule an EKG for that cat every 6 months, but don't have to pay extra for any treatment in the meantime and he's been good without any additional treatment for 1.5 years. It gave me a lot of peace of mind to know he's doing well. If you can afford it, an initial visit can help you understand risks of heart disease and what to look out for.
 

di and bob

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There are 6 grades to a murmur. 2-3 could still mean excitability during a vet visit. You might try a calming supplement treat available on Amazon or other pet med sites and see if it helps. I gave my cat half the dose and he did much better. You might have an x-ray done at the vet's office the next time in, they are inexpensive (much less than an ultrasound) and would tell if the heart is enlarged, which could mean hypertrophy of the heart. My cat had this and was given Lasix for years and did well. The Lasix 'thickens' the blood a little and lets the heart pump it easier and empty more completely, and takes care of any fluid backed into the lungs. When the murmur progresses into CHF or Congestive Heart Failure (like my Burt had) the blood backs up and causes fluid buildup. then there are symptoms present, like fast or difficult breathing and the most common, a persistent cough. Most advanced murmurs can be treated with medications. I would watch for any signs of coughing, lethargy, or breathing problems, and make sure he is seen by a vet maybe twice a year, or sooner if symptoms come up. Please try not to panic, there are many cats who lived for years with a murmur, just like people. It depends on what is causing it and how fast it progresses, and that can be monitored by frequent vet visits for any adjustments to the teratments
 

gilmargl

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When I first took Meghan, a stray, straight from the street to the vet, her heart murmurs were not graded in any way but I was given further appointments to check her sight (she had a very pronounced squint) and for an ECG and heart ultrasound. She was then diagnosed with what is commonly called a hole in the heart. Her blood pressure was okay so medication was not necessary but I was told to come back in 6 months for a second ECG and ultrasound. I myself had to go into hospital so it was more like a year before she was re-examined. There was no change in her condition so we agreed that checks should be made at yearly intervals. She doesn't appear to have any problems. When she's been particularly energetic she usually simply lies down on the spot - in a doorway, right in the middle of the hall where anybody can trip over her. But, within a few minutes she's back to normal.

We visited a second vet - one who's not so well equipped technically, but who can deal perfectly well with less acute problems. It was a skin problem as I was worried about ring worm. She noticed the heart murmur straightaway but reassured me. Just like people, cats can live to a ripe old age with a sepal defect. So long as Meghan doesn't need surgery there should be no need to worry. I told her that we are not sure whether she has been neutered. All the time she has been with me, she has never gone into heat. The vet said that because Meghan has congenital deformities (eye, heart) she could also be sterile.

Sorry, if I've gone off at a tangent. I just wanted to reassure you. I paid under €100 (115 US dollars?) for the second ECG and ultrasound. This may have been a reduced price as I know the vet well through her treatment of ferals and strays and I was her only technician on this occasion. Perhaps you can phone around and find somewhere cheaper.

Good luck.
 

fionasmom

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So, I don't want to be the one who is less hopeful, but when and if you can, I think you should follow up on the murmur with the ultrasound. Several years ago a vet tech believed that he heard a murmur in my cat Eliot, in fact, told me on several occasions that there was something that needed to be followed up BUT the vet herself dismissed it as nothing. Unfortunately, Eliot did not live much longer....probably 6 months. Eliot was an adult rescue, but was under 5 when he passed.

Veterinary care cost is prohibitive in so many cases today, but I have had better luck going to the specialist when needed than allowing the standard vet to handle it.
 
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lucicat

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thanks everyone. hearing your stories is helpful. I wish it wasn't so costly. I just spent nearly $500 at the vet for an wellness exam, vaccinations and then bloodwork. And then the cardiologist quoted me $600 for an exam and ultrasound. Ugh.
On Monday I am going to call around and see if I can find a better price. I want to know what we are looking at for reasons shared above. . .but also I will be pretty unhappy if I shell out that $ and then they say it's just stress from the vet!

I'm still researching and trying to figure it out. I wonder if I could learn to listen to her heart and see if I hear it when she's not stressed?
 
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