First Aid for Cats: Identifying and Managing Heart Disease


Although heart disease is more common in dogs than cats, it still affects many felines. Here are some facts about feline heart disease, along with tips on how to recognize and manage the condition.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a broad term that covers a range of diseases. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is present at birth and acquired heart disease develops later in life. Congenital CHD includes defects such as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which causes blood from the left side of the heart to flow back into its pulmonary artery instead of out through its pulmonary vein into your cat's lungs where it can be oxygenated. This condition can cause respiratory distress in young kittens if it isn't treated early on through surgery or medication.

Acquired CHDs are caused by an underlying condition like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, or kidney failure--all conditions that may have no symptoms until they become severe enough to cause damage to other organs including those related directly to circulation such as lungs and kidneys."

How do I know if my cat has heart disease?

It's important to remember that cats are living creatures, and they can develop any number of illnesses. Heart disease is common in cats, but it can be detected by a veterinarian through a physical exam and blood tests. The most common cause of heart disease is heartworm, which can be treated with antibiotics and surgery if necessary. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes; your cat may need a vaccine to prevent them from getting infected with this parasite.

If your cat suffers from heart problems, you should talk with your vet about how best to manage his condition so he can live as long an active life as possible--and maybe even pass away peacefully at home rather than in the hospital!

What are the symptoms of feline heart disease?

  • Coughing, especially after exercise.
  • Breathing rapidly, especially when stressed or excited (this is called tachypnea).
  • Weight loss despite a normal appetite and good food intake.
  • Restlessness, especially at night when your cat should be resting comfortably in your lap instead of pacing around the house like he's trying out for Dancing with the Stars.
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down or sleeping due to fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema).

Why does my cat have heart disease?

Heart disease in cats can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Age. Older cats are more likely to develop heart disease than younger ones.
  • Genetics. Heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are hereditary, meaning that if your cat's parents had them, he or she may be at risk for developing them as well too.
  • Obesity and diet -- especially if your kitty has been eating a diet high in fat or salt for an extended period of time (like many people's beloved pets). The same goes for stressors like loud noises--if they're enough to make you jump out of your skin then imagine how much worse they must feel coming from inside your chest cavity!

How does heart disease affect cats?

Heart disease can affect cats in a number of ways. It can cause heart failure, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), sudden death, murmur-like sounds that are mistaken for other conditions, and even strokes or high blood pressure. Heart disease can also cause anemia--a condition in which there aren't enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Heart failure occurs when your cat's heart fails to pump enough blood through its arteries and veins to meet its body's needs. Arrhythmias are abnormal rhythms of the heart muscle itself; they may be rapid or slow beating patterns that don't allow enough blood flow through the body tissues as they should be able to do effectively without any problems occurring at all times during routine activities like sleeping or eating food regularly without having any issues arise unexpectedly during these daily routines either!

Is diet the cause of my cat's heart disease?

Heart disease is not caused by diet, but it can be a contributing factor. What's more, diet may be a trigger for heart disease to develop in cats who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of feline heart disease: genetics, excessive activity (such as chasing prey or climbing trees), lack of exercise (such as being kept indoors), and environmental toxins have all been linked with the onset of this condition.

Find out if your cat is at risk of developing heart disease 

Heart disease is one of the most common cardiac diseases in cats. It affects about 25 percent of all cats, and it can be fatal if not treated quickly and properly. Heart failure is a common complication of heart disease, but there are many ways to prevent or manage this condition in your cat.

Heart disease is usually genetic; however, it can also result from trauma (such as being hit by a car), infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or feline leukemia virus (FeLV), hyperthyroidism or Addison's disease (a disorder that causes low blood pressure).

The good news: Heart failure doesn't always mean death! If you catch it early enough and manage it properly, you might be able to keep your furry friend around for years longer than expected!


If you suspect your cat has heart disease, it's important to have him or her checked out by a vet as soon as possible. Heart disease can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, but it also requires regular checkups so that any complications can be caught early on. Heart disease is common in cats but there are many ways to prevent it from happening in the first place!


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