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Understanding Your Cat’s Heart Health

Written by Kathleen Buffington

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Heart Health in Cats

As a cat owner, it’s important to recognize and understand the potential health concerns that your cat may face. That includes feline heart disease. Like in humans, heart disease in cats develops in different forms, each presenting its own set of challenges and treatment options. 


Feline heart disease is a broad term that covers many conditions that can affect a cat’s heart. Oftentimes, feline heart disease is broken down into congenital defects, or those present at birth, and acquired disorders. This article will delve into the various facets of feline heart disease, including various conditions that affect the heart, causes, signs, diagnosis, and potential treatments.

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Cardiomyopathy is brought about by an abnormality in the structural muscle enclosing one or both ventricles. Congenital heart defects commonly include holes in the heart and abnormal heart valve development.

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Hypertension in Cats

Feline hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common but often overlooked condition in cats that can have potential serious effects if left untreated. It occurs when the force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels is consistently elevated.


Many factors can contribute to hypertension, including: 

  • Kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Anxiety or excitement
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Heartworm Disease in Cats

While heart disease in cats often refers to conditions affecting the heart muscle, another significant cardiovascular concern is heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is caused by the parasitic worm Dirofilaria immitis, transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. While dogs are the primary hosts for heartworms, cats can also become infected, leading to potentially severe health complications.

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How Cats Get Infected

When a mosquito feeds off an infected animal, it picks up immature heartworm larvae. When the infected mosquito takes its next meal from your cat, it deposits those infective larvae onto the cat’s skin. The larvae then make their way into tissues, eventually reaching the heart and lungs, where they will mature into adult worms. Once mature, the worms can cause inflammation, damage to blood vessels, and obstruction of blood flow within the heart and lungs.

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Heart Murmurs in Cats

Heart murmurs in cats are abnormal sounds heard during a veterinary exam through a stethoscope. These sounds are common and result from various factors. 


Causes of Heart Murmurs 

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart valve abnormalities
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Systemic infections or fever
  • Stress/anxiety during vet exam
  • Heartworm Disease
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Caring for Your Cat’s Heart

While many cases of feline heart disease can’t be prevented, there are steps you can take to help reduce risks: 

  • Feed your cat a balanced diet formulated for their age and health needs
  • Maintain a healthy weight through portion control and regular exercise
  • Reduce potential sources of stress whenever possible
  • Schedule regular veterinary checkups to monitor heart health and detect any issues early
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Key Takeaways

Heart disease in cats can be serious.

Heart disease in cats is a serious and relatively common condition.

Hypertension and heartworm disease are associated with heart problems.

Hypertension and heartworm disease are two significant contributors to feline heart problems.

Watch for signs of underlying problems.

Heart murmurs can be a sign of underlying heart issues and should be investigated by a veterinarian. Cardiomyopathy is a prevalent type of heart disease in cats, with different forms requiring specific management approaches.

Reducing risks and early detection are crucial.

Reducing risks and early detection are crucial for the well-being of cats with heart disease.

You can help ensure the best outcome.

By staying informed, recognizing the signs, and seeking timely veterinary care, you can help ensure the best possible outcome for your cat.

Regular vet visits are essential.

Regular vet visits are essential for monitoring your cat’s heart health.

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Kathleen Buffington

Kathleen “Kat” Buffington graduated from the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture with a degree in biology. She began an over decade-long career in the animal health industry where she’s pursued her passion: training & educating others in all aspects of animal health. Outside of her career, she enjoys spending time with her friends & family, including 2 cats & 2 dogs.

Kathleen Buffington

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