FELINE HEART DISEASE
Cats Are Not Small Dogs
All cats are at risk of heart disease. Where cats are not small dogs, cats can mask their underlying heart disease for years until it expresses itself in what appears to be a sudden deterioration of heart function. Annual check ups by your veterinarian are recommended, along with cardiac screening tools now available.
Cardiomyopathy is the most common acquired heart condition in cats - accounting for two-thirds of feline heart disease. 85-90% of these cats have a form called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which results in heart muscle thickening and poor cardiac filling. In dogs, the stethoscope is the best way to detect heart disease as dogs with a heart murmur have heart disease. Studies have shown that 20-40% of apparently healthy cats can have heart murmurs and not all of these patients have underlying heart disease. To complicate detecting heart disease in cats, cats can have very important underlying heart disease without a detectable heart murmur.
The gold standard in diagnosis of heart disease in cats is an advanced cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) performed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist.
There is a blood test that can detect underlying heart disease at a certain stage in cats. This blood test is a cardiac biomarker called an NT-proBNP. It can be used as a preliminary screening tool for heart disease in cats. It is not a substitute for an echocardiogram but it may be a cost-effective test prior to anesthesia to help determine if your cat would benefit from seeing a veterinary cardiologist. Ask your veterinarian about this test today.
Having a board-certified veterinary cardiologist as part of the care team for your pet with heart disease helps to assure the best prognosis and quality of life for your best friend.