Heart Disease in Cats

Heart problems, signs, diagnosis and treatment of heart problems in cats

Gray and white cat at the vet
FatCamera/ E+/ Getty Images

Heart disease in cats is common, but often asymptomatic. Learn to recognize the signs of heart problems in cats, various causes, diagnostic and treatment options, and how to manage your heart patient pet at home.

Related: Heart Diease in Dogs

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    Heart disease in cats is frequently diagnosed and it can be a frightening situation for a cat owner. There are many different diseases that can affect the heart of the cat.

  • 02 of 14

    Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite that lives in the blood vessels of the lung and in the heart. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and has been seen in several species; dogs are very susceptible. Cats can be severely affected too, even by a single heartworm.

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    Many cats with heart disease are asymptomatic, showing no sign of their disease until the abnormality within the heart causes the heart to fail and not function normally.

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    Sophia the Cat Stretching by kaibara87 on Flickr
    Sophia Stretching. by kaibara87 on Flickr

    Diagnosing heart disease and/or heart failure in the dog and cat requires a combination of several different testing methods.

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  • 05 of 14

    There are many different drugs that are used to treat heart disease and heart failure in dogs and cats. The medications chosen will depend on the type of heart disease present, the overall health of your dog or cat, and the severity of the heart disease.

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    Home Care of a Cat with Heart Disease or Heart Failure

    Talk to Me by Zanastardust on Flickr
    Talk to Me. by Zanastardust on Flickr

    Cats that have heart disease need special care and monitoring at home. Proper care and monitoring of your cat at home can help delay the onset of heart failure and help alert you if your pet's condition worsens.

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    Is Heart Disease the Same as Heart Failure?

    Heart disease is commonly diagnosed in both dogs and cats and the diagnosis can be disturbing and confusing for pet owners. The differences between heart disease and heart failure are important to recognize.

  • 08 of 14

    Heart murmurs are sometimes found in cats and, as a cat owner, it can be upsetting to find that your cat has a murmur. Feline heart murmurs are generally detected during a physical examination when the veterinarian listens to your cat's chest with a stethoscope.

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  • 09 of 14

    Though there are many different conditions that can cause heart disease in cats, cardiomyopathies are among commonly diagnosed heart disease. There are several different types of feline cardiomyopathy. Each has different causes and different treatment methods may be required for each as well.

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    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, also called HCM, is the most common heart disease diagnosed in cats. It is most commonly seen in middle-aged to older cats but can affect cats of any age.

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    Cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) are most commonly middle-aged to older when signs become apparent. However, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can affect cats of any age.

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    Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Cats

    Though hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is much more commonly diagnosed in cats, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is occasionally seen also.

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    Where hypertrophic cardiomyopathy results in a thickened heart muscle with smaller heart chambers, dilated cardiomyopathy causes the heart chamber to be dilated or enlarged. Learn about diagnosis and management for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in cats.

  • 14 of 14

    Readers Respond: Tell Us About Your Pet's Heart Disease

    I got a cat. His name is Oscar. Credit: kio on Flickr
    I got a cat. His name is Oscar.. Credit: kio on Flickr

    The signs can be difficult to detect at first, but coughing, exercise intolerance, and difficulty breathing are common signs of heart (and lung) problems. 

    What signs did you first notice, what was the diagnosis, and how is treatment going for your pet?