Heart Disease in Cats
Are you ever amazed at how your cat acts like a person? If only we could protect our cats from developing the same diseases as people. Unfortunately, cats can develop diseases that are also common in humans, such as heart disease. Although treatments cannot reverse heart disease, your cat can live a relatively normal life. Aging is the most common reason cats develop a heart condition, but other factors like heartworm can also lead to heart disease.
If your cat exhibits the following symptoms, take her to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis:
- A low-pitched cough that sometimes leads to gagging
- Breathing difficulties that include shortness of breath
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Noticeable weight gain or loss
- Swelling in the abdomen
These symptoms are common in other diseases, so it is important for your vet to check you cat for heart disease using some of these methods:
- A stethoscope exam can reveal murmurs and fluid in the lungs
- Palpation can reveal unusual pulses
- X-rays reveal heart enlargement
- An EKG can identify heart enlargement and irregular rhythms
- Blood and urine tests can reveal heartworms and the condition of other internal organs
Heart disease typically causes the heart to enlarge, and this enlargement causes a loss of efficiency. The heart then begins to hold more fluid than it should and this is where the real problems begin. For this reason, veterinarians recommend feeding cats a low-sodium food that will help reduce fluid build-up and make it easier for their heart to work effectively.
For an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian.