Are you concerned that your cat has a heart murmur but you don't know what to look out for? Well, our Stroudsburg vets will what to look out for, what causes a murmur, and how it can be treated.
What is a heart murmur in cats?
When your vet listens to your cat's heart, he or she may detect a heart murmur. The turbulent blood flow within the heart or the large vessels exiting from the heart causes a heart murmur. This causes an abnormal noise, which your veterinarian can detect with a stethoscope.
Heart murmurs are assessed and graded according to certain criteria. There are grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 heart murmurs in cats. As you may have guessed, Grade 1 is the mildest and Grade 6 the most severe. The grading system is based largely on how loud the murmur is, but other factors are also considered, such as the area over which the murmur is audible.
The grade of the heart murmur does not necessarily relate to the degree of severity of the underlying heart problem. Some severe heart conditions may not be associated with any heart murmur at all, and some quite loud murmurs may occur with relatively small defects.
Heart Murmurs in Cats and Anesthesia
A feline heart murmur only indicates the possibility of a cardiac abnormality. Some murmurs are caused by harmless causes, while others are caused by severe heart disease. The volume of the murmur has no bearing on the potential severity of the disease. Only an echocardiogram can determine whether or not a murmur is serious.
The detection of a heart murmur during a veterinary examination allows us to improve your beloved cat's prognosis. Anesthesia is not dangerous if there is a murmur. Most importantly, it implies that we must conduct additional research to determine what is causing the noise.
Symptoms Of A Heart Murmur in Cats
Poor appetite, weight loss (or stunted growth in a kitten), breathing problems, pale gums, lethargy, or weakness are the most common symptoms observed in a cat with a clinically significant heart murmur.
Causes Of Heart Murmurs
The presence of a murmur generally implies an underlying heart condition, but murmurs can sometimes have other causes.
'Innocent' heart murmurs can be detected accidentally in young kittens. When the kitten grows older, these are typically no longer present.The cats frequently exhibit additional symptoms of anorexia and lethargy in addition to anemia, which is another cause of heart murmurs in cats.
Occasionally, older cats are reported to have incidental heart murmurs, which is when the blood flow within the large vessels exiting the heart may occasionally be heard as a murmur.
Can stress cause a heart murmur in cats?
When their heart rate increases as a result of stress, some healthy adult cats may develop an intermittent heart murmur. The cat's health is unaffected by this type of physiologic murmur, which disappears when the heart rate returns to normal.
Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Cats
A thorough investigation is carried out to determine the root cause when a heart murmur is initially found in a cat. A heart X-ray or a cardiac ultrasound examination may be necessary in addition to other tests.
Your veterinarian might advise you to return for a second examination in a few months to reevaluate the heart murmur and see if it has changed if, however, the cat is otherwise healthy and exercising normally.
Sometimes, if the cat is well and the heart murmur is unchanged, a periodic examination will be recommended.
The only way to determine if there is any disease within the heart itself that may be causing the murmur is to perform a detailed ultrasound examination of the heart. This is completely painless and is normally performed in a fully conscious cat.
What is the life expectancy of a cat with a heart murmur?
If medical treatment is effective, even cats with a more severe murmur and Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can live for many years. The life expectancy of a cat with a heart murmur who develops congestive heart failure is estimated to be 6 to 18 months.