Cats And Heart Disease - CatTime
Cats who are having breathing difficulties may need to be hospitalized until their breathing and heart rates are stable. Oxygen therapy will be given in order to help the cat get necessary oxygen. This oxygen will be given to the cat either via a breathing mask or a nasal cannula. The oxygen will need to be continued until the prescribed medications are working well enough for the cat to get adequate oxygen on its own.
We recently adopted two beautiful Siamese litter sisters from a dog rescue. We knew ahead of time that one of them (Baby) had a 6/6 heart murmur. We took her to our vet (City Cat Clinic) who confirmed this. She suggested we take Baby to the University of Minnesota Small Animal Vet Clinic for a cardiac ultrasound. Long story short: After 3 visits, the ultrasound confirmed the existence of a PDA. Baby was also in congestive heart failure. We were told she probably wouldn’t live more than 6 to 9 months, even with drug therapy. We started Baby on Lasix and Plavix to get her stabilized and reduce her breathing rate from 100+ to around 40. When she was stable, we took Baby back to the U of M for surgery to correct her PDA. They planned on an angiogram to be followed by a coil placement in the PDA to close it off. Unfortunately, the PDA was too large (6 mm) to be closed by a coil. They called us while she was still under anesthesia to ask if we wanted to pursue a surgical closure of the PDA. They said it would entail a large incision (3.5 to 4 inches). Then they would spread her ribs (cat ribs are apparently quite flexible), isolate the PDA and attempt to tie it off with silk sutures. There was no guarantee it would work and they said the vessel might even burst with the added pressure. Considering that she might only live less than a year without the surgery and might live much longer following successful surgery, we opted to try it. I can happily tell everyone that Baby is now 3 days post-op and recovering well on lasix, plavix, pain meds, trazadone and clavamox. The PDA was completely closed with no leakage. Her breathing rate is averaging 28 per minute now and she is eating, drinking and using her litter box. We couldn’t be more pleased with the fine veterinary staff at the U of M. They saved our Baby’s life.
Yes. Most folks speak about three types. But some cases mix elements of all three and a few cases defy classification beyond just saying a failing heart in a scholarly way (“unclassified cardiomyopathies”). This diuretic is one of the mainstays for treating many forms of heart failure (CHF=congestive heart failure) in people and pets. Congestive means that in those forms of heart problems fluid is leaking out of blood vessels and into the surrounding tissue (edema) and furosemide does an excellent job at allowing the kidneys to flush excess water and sodium into the urine. That action allows cats with HCM to breath more easily. The required dose in cats is highly variable. One tries to use the minimum dose at the longest spacing (interval) that keeps the cat breathing comfortably. As time goes by, that dose will increase. At high doses, the cat’s potassium levels sometimes become too low. In those cases, vets often add another diuretic, spironolactone, that allows the furosemide dose to be lower. But for now, veterinarians concentrate on prescribing medications that slow the cat’ heart rate (beta blockers) to an acceptable speed if it beating too fast or irregular (tachycardia & arrhythmias) Administering diuretics if pooled chest fluids are making breathing difficult and administering medications that make blood clots less likely. This medication increases the force of heart contraction. That is important in dogs where the dilative form of cardiomyopathy is common and the heart muscle walls expand, thin and become weak or in congestive heart failure brought on by valve disease – uses for which it is FDA approved. But neither is common in cats. Most vets reserve this drug for the very late stages of HCM when the cat is on a rapid, downward health trajectory in an attempt to salvage a little more time.