Our hearts are among the most important organs, and so any health conditions affecting them are quite concerning for pets and humans alike. Understandably, getting told your cat has a heart murmur can be scary, but it can also be managed with the right information and treated with help of pet health insurance and veterinary care. This blog will help you feel more comfortable and prepared to help your cat manage their heart health.
What Is A Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur is when there are sounds of vibrations in our cat's hearts. A turbulent blood flow causes these vibrations through their heart's valves and vessels. A few different heart murmurs can affect our cats, including pathological heart murmur and physiological heart murmur.
Pathological Heart Murmurs
These heart murmurs are a structural abnormality within the cat's heart. This can result in something called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when the muscles within your cat's heart begin to thicken. These thick muscles make it harder for the heart to expel blood from the vessel, causing the heart to no longer be pumping blood as normally as it should be.
Often pathological murmurs are due to the cat's genetics. Usually, several mutations will be identified as being the reason for this murmur to have developed. Veterinarians can often detect heart murmurs like this early on in your cat's life or as a part of their routine care and vet checks with a pet wellness plan.
This type of heart murmur is the most common in a short-haired domestic cat.
Physiological Heart Murmurs
These heart murmurs are often caused due to another health issue the cat may be dealing with. The most common health conditions in cats that lead to a physiological heart murmur include hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and anemia. However, sometimes this murmur does develop seemingly out of the blue, which is called an 'innocent' heart murmur.
Often vets diagnose kittens with 'innocent' heart murmurs caused by their small blood vessels. Kittens can also be super nervous the first time they see a vet, which can cause a jump in blood pressure. As the cat grows, the heart murmur can disappear. Your vet can observe these heart murmurs annually or semi-annually with a pet wellness plan. If the heart murmur persists, other procedures covered by a pet wellness plan can be conducted. This includes bloodwork, fecal exams, and urinalysis, all of which can help establish a potential cause if there is one.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Has A Heart Murmur?
It is pretty tricky for pet parents to tell whether or not our cat has a heart murmur. Unless you are a trained vet or veterinary technician, you probably won't make this determination yourself. But there are a few warning signs you can watch out for.
An 'innocent' murmur will not show any symptoms, so is usually only caught from a trip to the vet. However, you can spot other conditions that might lead to a heart murmur. For example, if your cat has anemia, it will have a pale mucous membrane. If they have hyperthyroidism, they might suddenly lose a lot of weight, develop a dull coat, and experience an increase in energy. If your cat expresses any of these symptoms, you should mention them to your vet using your pet wellness plan's routine checkups.
If your cat is suffering from a pathologic heart murmur, it will show different symptoms than one caused by structural issues in the cat's heart. Common signs that should result in a trip to the veterinarian include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weezing or respiratory distress
Heart disease can progress in cats rapidly, and if heart murmurs are not noticed early on, they can begin to wreak havoc on the heart. With routine checkups and treatments, cats can often live with a heart murmur for years. However, if this condition goes untreated and the cat has no symptoms, they can die suddenly or be given a few months to live.
Bringing your cat to the vet for routine checkups can be the difference between a long and happy life or a shorter one. Pet insurance plans are helpful in emergencies when your cat becomes suddenly ill, covering surgeries, diagnostics, hospital stays, prescription meds, and more.
Pet wellness plans are probably more important than a pet insurance plan because they cover routine, preventative care. Pets who see their vet regularly are at an advantage. Their vet gets to know them and can catch severe health conditions before they have a chance to do too much internal damage.
If you're ready to get your pets signed up for Wagmos pet wellness plans and pet insurance plans, head over to our Wagmo coverage quiz. This quiz allows you to customize your coverage plan to fit your pet's needs and your budget. Wagmo quotes are free!