A pet health condition can occur anytime in your cat’s life, including when they’re firstborn. This may leave you feeling overwhelmed, not always knowing what the medical condition is, or what it may mean for your furry friend. Because of this, it’s important to be mindful of pet medical conditions that can affect cats and kittens of all ages. We wanted to create this guide as a way to help better understand heart murmurs and what it may mean for your furry friend. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about heart murmur in cats.
Heart murmur in cats
What is a heart murmur?
Your pet’s heart condition diagnosis may be stressful for the entire family. But what does that actually mean for your furry friend? Wilde explains more about what a heart murmur in cats is below.
“A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that we hear when we listen to the cat’s chest, caused by increased turbulence in the blood flow through the heart,” says Wilde.
It may be hard to detect if your cat is sick. After all, your cat is often mysterious and they may not let you know they’re feeling sick.
If you have any concerns about your cat, please reach out to your veterinarian. They can perform an exam, run diagnostic tests, and determine the next best steps for your furry friend.
How do cats get a heart murmur?
A heart murmur can happen at any time, and this includes while your kitten develops. Also, there are a variety of reasons why your cat may develop a heart murmur.
For example, they could experience everything from a birth defect to a leaky heart valve. In fact, it may depend on the severity of your cat’s heart murmur for you to notice anything is wrong. Wilde points out some signs that may be a sign of your cat’s murmur:
Signs of a heart murmur
- Most heart murmurs are asymptomatic until they’re advanced.
- Signs can be subtle and non-specific, sometimes consisting of lethargy and weight loss.
- When heart disease has progressed, the most common clinical signs are associated with fluid build-up in and around the lungs. This may include rapid shallow breathing, panting, and respiratory distress. These signs are the most common clinical signs of heart failure.
- A heart murmur can cause increased clotting in the blood of a cat’s body, which can present as severe pain and inability to use the hind legs.
If you’re notating anything unusual or abnormal with your furry friend, please seek the medical care of your veterinarian. The expertise and guidance of your pet’s veterinary staff is vital, as they can listen to your cat’s heart and recommend the next course of action.
Trupanion claims data
We sat down with the Trupanion data team to look further into heart murmurs claims and the cost of medical care for your cat. For example, “the average claimed amount for heart murmurs is $210. Also, to date the Trupanion policy has paid nearly 5,000 individual heart murmur claims, at a total claims payout over $1 million,” says Trupanion data analyst Malia Prescott.*
Your cat’s heart murmur can appear when you least expect it. While some heart murmurs may be detected as a kitten, others may appear later in life. In fact, every cat is different and not all will require daily medication or surgery.
further explains your pet’s different treatment options below:
- Whether or not a heart murmur needs treatment depends on the severity of the murmur, like how advanced it is, the cause of the murmur, and what the related clinical signs are in your best friend.
- There is no cure for a heart murmur, but you can try to use medication to manage associated clinical signs.
- Treatment depends on the cause of the murmur and the signs you are trying to manage.
- The most commonly used medications are diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and sometimes anti-clotting medications.
- A diet change can also be beneficial.
If your cat does get a heart murmur diagnosis, just know that the medical treatment and care have advanced over the years.
With the help and guidance of your veterinarian and plenty of kisses and cuddles from the family, your pet will be in the best care possible!
To learn more about cat medical conditions, read Arthritis in Cats: What You Need to Know
*Terms and conditions do apply.
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Trupanion is a registered trademark owned by Trupanion, Inc. Underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company and in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit AmericanPetInsurance.com to review all available pet health insurance products.