Cardiovascular disease doesn’t just affect humans. It can impact cats, too. Problems affecting the heart and blood vessels are serious, and without proper treatment, they can be life-threatening. If your cat has heart disease, it could be either a congenital problem or an acquired condition. In either case, seeking veterinary care is crucial. 

Here at City Pet Hospital, we encourage you to contact us immediately if you’re concerned about your cat’s heart. As veterinarians, we also decided to share our answers to the most commonly asked questions about cat cardiology. If your cat needs a veterinarian in Daly City, CA, we can help. Call (415) 849-3777 now to schedule an appointment. 

How do heart issues impact my cat’s health and well-being? 

The heart is one of the most critical organs in the entire body. If it is not functioning correctly, your cat’s quality of life will suffer. They may experience several different symptoms, some more severe than others. Without veterinary intervention, severe heart problems could cause premature death. 

What preventative measures do cat cardiologists recommend to help avoid feline heart disease? 

As a cat owner, scheduling annual physical exams is one of the best ways to protect your cat from heart disease. Cats often hide symptoms of heart disease (and other health problems) until the issue becomes severe. Bringing them in for regular checkups allows us to look for early signs of heart disease and begin appropriate treatment at the first sign of trouble. 

You can also lower your cat’s risk of heart disease by feeding them a heart-healthy diet that’s low in sodium and high in protein and making sure they get enough exercise. Even a few minutes of daily playtime makes a significant impact on your cat’s heart health. If you have questions about your cat’s nutrition and exercise needs, we can help. 

What are some signs and symptoms of heart disease in cats, and what problems can they cause? 

Heart disease in cats causes a wide range of symptoms. Unfortunately, felines are notorious for their ability to hide signs of illness until the disease reaches advanced stages. 

The most common symptoms of heart disease in cats: 

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased respiratory rate/difficulty breathing
  • Stunted growth (in kittens)
  • Sudden collapse
  • Sudden hind leg paralysis and pain caused by blood clots
  • Exercise intolerance

Unlike dogs and humans, cats typically do not develop a cough due to heart disease. 

Cardiomyopathy is one of the most common cardiac diseases in cats. It causes thickening of the heart’s walls and decreases cardiovascular efficiency. Heart disease can lead to difficulty walking, depression, restlessness, and in severe cases, premature death. 

Do cats have problems with high blood pressure? 

Cats can experience high blood pressure or hypertension. This problem is most prevalent in seniors, especially those who are obese or overweight. While heart disease is a leading cause of feline hypertension, it can also occur due to thyroid and kidney disease. Unlike in humans, high blood pressure is not linked to stress in cats. 

Can cats have heart murmurs? 

A heart murmur in cats is an abnormal flow of blood through a heart valve. While this is something that cats can experience, only about half of cats with cardiovascular disease have heart murmurs. 

How does an irregular heartbeat affect a cat? 

When the heart beats ineffectively or out of rhythm, it can cause difficulty breathing, weakness, and lethargy in cats. Some cases of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, are relatively mild and do not require treatment. Others can be life-threatening. As your cat’s veterinarian, we can help you determine the correct course of treatment for an irregular heartbeat.

Why is it important to avoid diagnosing heart disease in cats myself? 

Only a veterinarian or cat cardiologist can diagnose heart disease in cats. Cats are well known for their ability to hide signs of illness and often do so until a problem becomes severe. Additionally, many of the symptoms of heart disease can be caused by other underlying issues. Seeking veterinary care is the only way to know what’s going on with your cat and make sure they receive the appropriate treatment. 

How will a cat cardiologist diagnose heart issues in my cat? 

We’ll start by performing a comprehensive physical exam. If you bring your cat in yearly, we’ll be able to watch for changes from one year to the next. During the exam, we will listen to their heart, which may allow us to detect a murmur or irregular heartbeat. We may also recommend blood tests to determine whether the heart is healthy. 

In some cases, we will use an echocardiogram to view the heart and assess its function. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound which allows us to measure the muscles of the heart. With this test, we can tell if the muscle is too thick or if the heart isn’t pumping effectively. 

What are some possible treatments or procedures for heart disease in cats? 

The specific treatment for heart disease varies depending on its cause. Giving your cat adequate exercise, feeding them a well-balanced diet, and managing their weight go a long way toward improving their heart health. We may also recommend heart medications or, in rare cases, surgery. 

Why is early detection and diagnosis so important for my cat? 

As with humans, cats' undiagnosed and untreated heart disease can be deadly. Early detection typically yields the best prognosis, so we encourage you to keep up with those annual checkups and bring your cat in right away if you think something is wrong. 
If you still have questions, you can reach us by calling (415) 849-3777.