Elderly cat with enlarged heart

countrygirl576

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My cat who is 15 yrs old and diabetic along with overactive thyroid now also has an enlarged heart. Found out on Tuesday. Took her because she was just to sleepy thinking her meds had to be adjusted. They did an Xray because of her fast breathing. (Her insulin was way to low but that was not all of the problem) She doesn't breathe fast at home but was doing that at the vets and I thought because she was scared. Nope, it showed enlarged heart. Not sure how bad but she needs a cardiogram with a cardiologist now which means back to the city where all the special vets are. They can't do it until January 24th so I'm not sure she will make it that far. They did put her on the cancelation list but that doesn't really mean anything because it takes time to get there, and all 3 cats have medicine at 8:00 am so if the appointment is early morning, I can't get her there. From what I have read she won't be with me much longer. A cat in healthy condition after being put on meds has 8-12 months. She isn't in healthy condition, and she won't be getting medication until January 24th and if it snows, she won't even be getting there then. The animal hospital is booked until end of March so that place is out. I'm planning on her crossing that rainbow bridge in spring. That is how it happens with pets and people. They survive winter and as soon as the weather starts to get nice, they are gone. I lost my other cat last year December 6th to cancer and now I will be losing this one sometime this year. 😢 They keep wanting people to adopt pets to save them and for what? There are not enough vets or vet hospitals or vet specialists and then you are left worrying yourself sick because you can't get them in for help. If you are a person who really cares and want care for them there is no place to take them. I do know once all my fur kids have crossed that bridge that ends having any pets. Plus, I am so far into debt now it will take 2 lifetimes to pay it all off. I have maxed out 2 credit cards now and on my 3rd. It will cost almost $700 for the cardiologist visit and I'm not sure it is worth spending or putting her through it. I spent over $1,000 for my cat last year and she only survived 1 month 2 days.
 

Furballsmom

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I'm so so sorry this all has taken the joy of them from you. My heart breaks for you, and her 💔
 

FeebysOwner

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I wouldn't be so quick to assume she is going to die any time soon. Feeby (18+ yo) had an x-ray done over a year ago when I noticed her breathing rate changed - not all the time, but at different points of the day. The x-ray, according to the vet, appeared to show an enlarged heart and perhaps some fluid in her chest cavity. This led me to a specialty vet, the appt was about month later, who did another x-ray and an echocardiogram. Turns out there is no enlarged heart or any fluid. The specialty vet said in older cats, the muscles surrounding/supporting the chest cavity can become a bit 'lax' with age, and the heart lays a bit differently which can be interpreted as an enlargement. She does have a leaky heart valve, but it doesn't require treatment, as yet anyway. They never did determine what might cause the on-off change in her breathing rate - other than possibly from her hyperthyroidism, as her T-4 count was a bit higher than it should be.

I know diabetes and/or hyperthyroidism can affect the heart, but most issues - for whatever the cause - are treatable with meds and can extend a cat's life by more than what you apparently are reading. High blood pressure is another thing to have checked out as well, and it is also treatable. I believe this condition can also be the result of either of her health conditions.

I am not saying that any/all of the above will be the case with your cat, but a second opinion is surely warranted before you get too far ahead of yourself.

Re: the financial aspect - take a look at the links below. I suppose you could ask your vet if there is any way to share the x-ray(s) with a specialist for a consult fee rather than a full-blown exam fee to start with. They may be able to determine what the next steps are by looking at them, although if there is any doubt about the enlarged heart, they will likely want to do their own x-rays.
No Money For Vet Care? How To Find Help And Save Your Cat’s Life – TheCatSite Articles
Financial Aid for Pets | Best Friends Animal Society
 
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countrygirl576

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I wouldn't be so quick to assume she is going to die any time soon. Feeby (18+ yo) had an x-ray done over a year ago when I noticed her breathing rate changed - not all the time, but at different points of the day. The x-ray, according to the vet, appeared to show an enlarged heart and perhaps some fluid in her chest cavity. This led me to a specialty vet, the appt was about month later, who did another x-ray and an echocardiogram. Turns out there is no enlarged heart or any fluid. The specialty vet said in older cats, the muscles surrounding/supporting the chest cavity can become a bit 'lax' with age, and the heart lays a bit differently which can be interpreted as an enlargement. She does have a leaky heart valve, but it doesn't require treatment, as yet anyway. They never did determine what might cause the on-off change in her breathing rate - other than possibly from her hyperthyroidism, as her T-4 count was a bit higher than it should be.

I know diabetes and/or hyperthyroidism can affect the heart, but most issues - for whatever the cause - are treatable with meds and can extend a cat's life by more than what you apparently are reading. High blood pressure is another thing to have checked out as well, and it is also treatable. I believe this condition can also be the result of either of her health conditions.

I am not saying that any/all of the above will be the case with your cat, but a second opinion is surely warranted before you get too far ahead of yourself.

Re: the financial aspect - take a look at the links below. I suppose you could ask your vet if there is any way to share the x-ray(s) with a specialist for a consult fee rather than a full-blown exam fee to start with. They may be able to determine what the next steps are by looking at them, although if there is any doubt about the enlarged heart, they will likely want to do their own x-rays.
No Money For Vet Care? How To Find Help And Save Your Cat’s Life – TheCatSite Articles
Financial Aid for Pets | Best Friends Animal Society
You have given me a little bit of hope. The Xray was sent out to be read by a specialist (which I paid for) and they said enlarged heart. My vet then suggested the echogram. She told me she could go into congestive heart failure if I don't, but they wouldn't tell me just how serious it was and if she would last long. Her sugar level was over 400 and her insulin was increased. I actually increased it myself Saturday night. Had no one to call or take her to so I did it on my own. I knew it had to happen. After the Xray was done it showed her intestines were thick and my vet told me more than likely she had cancer and that was causing the breathing problem. Specialist who read it said nothing about her thick intestines. They didn't seem worried about it. I didn't think it would be intestinal cancer because my other cat died from that in 2020 (found out 3 days before I had to put her down. Was told 3 months earlier she was just constipated from the xray when it was cancer but that was different Vet place) and she got very bloated. This cat isn't bloated at all. She's almost just skin and bones now. She will have her thyroid level checked this Thursday. Plus, I have been told from day one that her thyroid medicine can cause Kidney failure (oh, I forgot that part. She is in the start if kidney failure but not put on medicine for it which I don't understand. One kidney lever was 20 but the other level was still good but because of the level 20 that is the start of kidney failure) and which in turn causes heart issues. My other cat has a leaky valve but nothing serious. Just recheck it in a years' time. That was found last summer with an ultrasound because she has a heart murmur (has since Jan. 2020 but no one told me to take her for an ultrasound to have it check. She needed MRI for her sudden seizures and her heart had to be checked to make sure it could handle to procedure. She also has high blood pressure and medicine for it) I now have had 3 cats with heart problems, and all are sisters. The one who I lost last year had a large heart that was found during the ultrasound. Their sister I lost 5 years ago suddenly to passing a blood clot. So, at this point I am just a basket case. I don't really know who to believe anymore as far as vets go. There are 4 different vets where I am, and they all have different outcomes. Guess all I can do is just wait and see what happens. Thank you for listing the helping sites. I will look into them.
 

FeebysOwner

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My cat too has kidney disease, on top of the hyperthyroidism and a recent diagnosis of intestinal lymphoma, not to mention arthritis. I have seen both an internal med specialist and an oncologist and neither of them said Feeby's heart rate had anything to do with her cancer - or her kidney disease which sounds like it is farther advanced than your cat's. It's unfortunate for that vet to scare with you with suggesting she could go into congestive heart failure given more tests are needed to really understand what is going on. As far as thickened intestines, which can also be IBD, there isn't much to say about them if they are not causing symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea, which are the most common ones.

It all depends on what your cat's kidney values are as to what, if any, treatments are needed (sorry I don't know what the '20' might be referring to without more information). There aren't really any 'meds' for treating kidney disease, other than those to help reduce symptoms related to the disease, and/or renal care cat food. None of them are really appropriate until kidney levels are elevated enough to start to cause symptoms. Thyroid medicine does not cause kidney issues, but rather it 'unmasks' them, meaning the kidney disease is already there.

You've been through a lot with your cats, and I can't blame you for worrying. But take one step at a time and try not to think too far ahead for now.

If you were to get into a financial position that would allow you to do so, you could benefit from finding an internal medicine vet who could look at the whole picture related to your cat's illnesses in total.
 

Furballsmom

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Thyroid medicine can cause reactions and isn't safe to use for a cat with liver issues, but as mentioned, there's no correlation of it causing kidney problems. If kidney issues already exist, the increased blood flow by an untreated overactive thyroid actually helps the kidneys function better, ironically enough.

For cats with kidney issues, food with lower phosphorus can be helpful. Weruva, Evangers, etc have varieties with lower phosphorus.

To help her gain weight whether it's hyper-T or not, there might be some tips here to help;
Any Good Tips To Get Your Cats To Eat? Share Them Here!

Also there might be info here that helps;

Tips To Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake – TheCatSite Articles
 
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countrygirl576

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Well, if my cats problem isn't bad enough my mom has tested positive for covid today. :( Since it all started, she has stayed home and only gone to Doctor appointments when needed. I and my brother (who help her out..she was living alone but we have been going through the medicaid process to have someone stay with her 24/7 if she made it back home after therapy. We can't stay with her 24/7 even in shifts and can't afford it. It is so expensive) and my mom have stayed away from people and gatherings. Only going to stores when need be and now this happens. I know she isn't a cat and maybe I shouldn't post it and if it is wrong then please delete but I was kind of hoping this new year would be better. Why was I hoping?? She had to go to a nursing home 2 weeks ago (after being in the hospital) because she broke her back (brittle bones) had a small surgery and needed therapy afterwards. Lots of the workers at the nursing home have been testing positive and so have the residents. I'm not sure how Covid could get in the place or spread if they followed the rules and wear Masks and sanitizer and keep things cleaned! They even make people test before going in and for what?? It says it isn't a guarantee. She's 88 yrs old in poor health so I don't see her making it. Now my brother is staying by himself to make sure he didn't catch it when going to visit her today. I'm mentally drained at this point..........as far as my cat goes, I will just wait for January 24th date and go from there.
 

Furballsmom

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I'm so sorry! :grouphug2:

You posted this above .. ..
She will have her thyroid level checked this Thursday.
Is the 24th for the thyroid check, or is that an appointment for something else?

Do you think there might be some things that you can feed your baby to help get some weight back on?
 
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countrygirl576

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Her thyroid check is this Thursday. January 24th is to see the heart doctor and do the cardiogram or ecogram. I can never remember which one. She is super skinny because of her thyroid, and I've been told more than once by my vets that she can't put weight on because of her overactive thyroid. At least she hasn't lost any weight. She is still over 8 lbs but lost all muscle.
 

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I remember when Poppycat started to lose, I gave him pate foods mushed with meat baby food to entice him. If your baby doesn't like that maybe other Weruva foods could be interesting, and Feline Natural chicken and venison has low iodine. If there's any way you can then gently get her to be a little more active. Poppy was able to both gain a little weight back and he was able to remain strong.
 
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FeebysOwner

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Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to heart issues, which if not left untreated for too long can be reversed. I am not sure there is a difference between the two terms you are using. There is an echocardiogram, a non-invasive procedure that often doesn't even require any form of sedation, which is essentially an ultrasound of the heart. It is used to help to evaluate the structure and function of the heart.
There is also a procedure called electrocardiogram (EKG), also non-invasive, that records the electrical activity of the cat’s heart, and can be useful for identification of heart enlargement, but probably is less likely what your cat will have done since the x-ray has deemed enlargement already.

Muscle mass will happen in cats as they age regardless but is typically even more prominent in cats with hyperthyroidism and/or kidney disease.

I am sorry about your mom and hope she is receiving the best care possible.
 
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countrygirl576

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Today was the cardiologist visit. She has Hypertropic cardionyopathy--end stage. Not really sure what that means but she said she couldn't tell me how long she had. She has some mild thickening of the left vetricle and decreased systolic function. Severe left atrial and right atrial dilation. No signs of congestive heart failure. She was breathing very fast at the visit but she didn't know why. Was way over the 40 counts for breathing. I told her she doesn't do that at home. So, now she has even more medicine on top of the insulin and overactive thyroid. Pimobendian, Clopidogrel, and a diuretic for emergency if her breathing starts to get fast. I'm not really sure what all of this does mean for her but I am thinking this is her last year if she even makes it to the end of the year. She will be 16 yrs old come end of April. Her sister died at age 10 from a sudden blood clot and she was diabetic but hers was caused by too many steroid shots. Her sister that just died last year from cancer had an enlarged heart as well and her other sister has a heart problem. There were two different fathers to the litter and I'm pretty sure all the heart problems are on the fathers' side. The mother's (who I have) heart is fine. Not sure how much more of this I can take but I am just going to keep going. Once I get all the medicine down that will help some. My other cat who has seizures started having them again, so they upped her medicine and she's almost just a zombie. Not sure what I will do if they start in again in two months. She can't live as a zombie.
 
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countrygirl576

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I had to take her back to the regular vet today. She's been acting really tired and a blob since last week. I wanted blood work done on her back on Monday (Jan. 23rd) to check for an infection which she has had a hard time with in the past but they said no because the next day was the cardiologist visit and they might do blood work. No blood work was done. Had snowstorm yesterday so today was the 1st day I could get there since Monday. No infection but her sugar was down to 78. They adjusted her insulin from 1 unit twice a day to 1/2 unit twice a day and see how it goes over the weekend. BUT the vet today (only two I sort of trust there. The one today and another one) said her kidneys were fine. Same blood work that was done on Jan. 1st and the vet I saw that day (I don't like at all. We never hit it off and she was wrong about my other cat when I first started going there to where I had to take her to the vet hospital later that night) said she was in early kidney failure stage. How does she go from that 3 weeks ago to kidneys fine today????? I don't get it. It seems once kidney failure starts it stays that way. The vet today owns the place too and not sure that makes a difference and I have had times when we butted heads, but he still is ok. I don't remember it being this hard with the dogs I had.
 

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This was two different vets looking at the same blood work results? You can get a copy of those results sent/emailed to you, look at them for yourself, see what her numbers are, and if they fall in or out of range. Most of the time you can simply call the vet's office and the receptionist can send them to you without having to ask the vet.
 
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countrygirl576

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Not two vets looking at the same blood work today. A different vet did blood work today (the one who owns it) and a different vet on Jan 1st. The one on the 1st never showed me the results. The one today did and her kidney levels are good.
 

FeebysOwner

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No reason you can't the results from the first one, as well as the second one. They are yours to have, all you need to do is ask. Then, you can compare them. That is what I would do.
 
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Furballsmom

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I agree, I would get both test results and look and compare myself. The normal - to - high ranges are shown, so you don't need to guess.
 
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countrygirl576

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First off I got the dates wrong. I took her on Dec. 27th 2022 and was told enlarge heart and early stage of kidney failure. I realized I had both results when I left today. The vet I saw today always prints them out and shows me and he printed out the results on Dec. 27 to compare. He will compare blood work or any tests from all the others and will go back a couple years. So I looked. Her bun level on the 27th was 31. That is only 1 point in the red zone which she has done before. That same level today is way down in the good level area. She should have looked at all her blood work done in the past and she has had many many of them and she would have seen her level does that. Her white count on the 27th was very high at 161 which meant she did have an infection on that day. Today her white count is 0.87. From now on I want to see the test results for myself.
 
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