This may be surprising for you to hear, but a heart murmur in cats is often nothing to worry about.
However, that said, there are still many cases where it could be a real cause for concern about heart disease in cats.
This is why it is so important to make sure that your cat is receiving the best possible veterinary care on a regular basis.
A veterinary cardiologist will be able to listen to your cat’s heart and determine the best course of action to take.
What is a Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur in cats occurs when there is a disturbance in the blood flow through the animal’s heart.
A turbulent blood flow through the heart chambers is considered a heart defect, and will warrant an ultrasound of the heart.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle which can be associated with heart murmurs in cats.
The most common type of this disease in cats can cause the heart walls to thicken.
Which in turn decreases how efficiently the heart functions, and can be a serious cause for concern.
If left unaddressed a heart murmur in a cat could lead to congestive heart failure, and sudden death.
There are however many times when the murmur will be deemed benign and is nothing to worry about.
In most heart murmur situations your cat can expect a long and happy life without any ill effects.
What Causes a Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur occurs when there is a disruption to the blood flow through the heart which causes an unstable stream.
The heart murmur is heard as a whooshing sound at different levels of auditory intensity.
These sounds are ordered on six levels, one being the least intense, and six being the loudest.
The intensity of sound does not always correspond to the seriousness of the murmur.
The causes of a heart murmur in a cat could be due to structural heart disease.
This is when a cat is born with a defective or compromised heart.
Or it could be that the cat in question acquired heart disease over the years.
High blood pressure, anemia, or even an enlarged thyroid can cause cardiomyopathy.
Obesity can also put pressure on your cat’s heart, causing these symptoms to occur.
If this is the case it will most likely require a change in diet.
What To Do If Your Cat is Diagnosed With a Murmur
Your vet will most likely first discover a heart murmur in your cat during a routine exam.
Using a stethoscope your vet will listen to your cat for any abnormalities.
However, your vet will also assess any other clinical signs to determine how severe the diagnosis is.
Such as poor appetite, pale gums, weight loss, weakness among other things will shape the treatment.
The gold standard diagnostic testing is an echocardiogram to detect heart valve issues.
If there is any suspicion that the murmur is related to a different disease, then a blood test will also be recommended.
Depending on the severity of the murmur your vet will recommend treatments such as medication, surgery, or perhaps only a different diet.
If your cat is still a kitten then chances are that s/he will grow out of a murmur just fine.
The prognosis for this condition varies from very good, to very serious.
And since every cat is an individual, and each disease can vary, your veterinary healthcare provider will suggest a personal plan for your cat.