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Congestive Heart Failure in Cats due to HCM in Cats

by Vetic Editorial
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What is HCM in Cats? Why Does It Deserve Your Attention?

No cat parent ever wants to think of the possibility that their precious furball can fall seriously sick. However, it is important to know the possibilities to find out the correct preventive healthcare measures you can take before your cat begins showing signs of congestive heart failure. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common cardiac disease diagnosed in cats. It is also one of the leading causes of congestive heart failure in cats. 

As a matter of fact, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs in 1 out of 7 cats although most of them do not show any clinical signs in the early stages. 

That is the very reason why you need to get your cat or kitten’s cardiac health checked up ASAP. Speak to a veterinary cardiac specialist at Vetic for your cat’s preventive health checkup right now. 

What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)?

An informational image about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats, featuring a grey cat and a diagram of an affected heart. Description: The image is informational and focuses on explaining Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats. On the left side, there is a grey cat lying down, looking towards the camera. The background is plain with a gradient from white to light blue at the bottom. At the top left corner, there’s text explaining what HCM is and stating that it’s a common heart disease in cats causing thickening of heart muscles. On the right side, there’s a diagram of an HCM affected heart labeled “HCM Heart,” showing thickened walls and narrowed chambers. The company or organization logo “vetic” appears at the top right corner.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats is a progressive disease that reduces the heart’s efficiency. HCM in cats causes the thickening of the muscular walls of a cat’s heart. 

HCM can also show signs in other parts of the body including lameness, shortness of breath and lethargy. 

Cats with HCM show abnormal thickening of the heart’s left ventricle. It results in the reduction of space inside the heart’s chamber. The changes cause the heart to beat rapidly using up more oxygen in the process. 

Eventually, it can lead to arrhythmias (slower, faster, irregular heartbeats), backup of blood in the chamber(s) of the heart and even to the lungs. 

These steps ultimately cause congestive heart failure. 

What are the Clinical Signs of Hypertrophic Cardiomegaly (HCM) in Cats?

An informational image about Hypertrophic Cardiomegaly in cats featuring a fluffy cat and a list of symptoms. The image is an informational graphic about “The Clinical Signs of Hypertrophic Cardiomegaly or HCM in Cats” by vetic. A fluffy, long-haired cat with green eyes is prominently featured on the right side of the image. The background is a gradient from blue at the top to white at the bottom. At the top, there’s text stating that most cats with mild to moderate heart diseases don’t have symptoms. Below this, there’s a list of symptoms of HCM in cats, including labored breathing, panting, hind limb pain, and hind limb paralysis. Each symptom is accompanied by an icon of a cat’s face.

Most of the cats with mild to moderate heart diseases don’t show any symptoms. 

Other cats can show symptoms such as –

  • Laboured breathing
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Panting
  • Hind limb pain
  • Hind limb paralysis

Some cats may also develop blood clots in one or multiple parts of the body. 

Is Your Cat at Risk of Developing HCM? 

Around 15% of cats across the world are diagnosed with HCM since they show the clinical signs. That is a big number considering several indie cats and other common breeds such as Persian, Ragdoll and Maine Coon go through their entire junior years and part of their adulthood without any preventive health screening (tests). 

An informational image from Vetic about cat breeds at high risk of developing a specific heart condition, with a list of breeds and additional information on the condition. Description: The image is primarily informational, presented in a visual format with text and icons. The top section has a teal background with white text stating “Which Cat Breeds are at a High Risk of Developing” (the rest is cut off but likely refers to a specific health condition). Below this headline, there’s a list of four cat breeds: Ragdoll, Persian Cats, Maine Coon, and British Shorthair. Each breed name is accompanied by an icon of a cat’s face. A large blurred area obscures part of the image; it seems like an illustration or photo was originally there. At the bottom, there’s more text on the teal background explaining that this is a common heart condition in cats and providing statistics about its prevalence. The logo “vetic” appears in the top right corner.

There is no gender bias when it comes to HCM. 

Any cat can be at risk of developing HCM since this heart disease is dependent on genetics. Other factors involved in the cause of this heart disease in cats is not yet known. 

HCM is most commonly seen in particular breeds including Ragdoll, Persian, British Shorthair and Maine Coon. If you have a Persian cat in India, or you have brought a Maine Coon, British Shorthair or Ragdoll cat home, you need to put their cardiac health checkups on priority. 

How is HCM in Cats Diagnosed?

An informational image from Vetic about cat breeds at high risk of developing a specific heart condition, with a list of breeds and additional information on the condition. Description: The image is primarily informational, presented in a visual format with text and icons. The top section has a teal background with white text stating “Which Cat Breeds are at a High Risk of Developing” (the rest is cut off but likely refers to a specific health condition). Below this headline, there’s a list of four cat breeds: Ragdoll, Persian Cats, Maine Coon, and British Shorthair. Each breed name is accompanied by an icon of a cat’s face. A large blurred area obscures part of the image; it seems like an illustration or photo was originally there. At the bottom, there’s more text on the teal background explaining that this is a common heart condition in cats and providing statistics about its prevalence. The logo “vetic” appears in the top right corner.

It is extremely difficult to diagnose HCM when it’s subclinical or without any symptoms. 

If a kitten or cat has early stage HCM, you need to go for preventive healthcare screening including echocardiography, which can reveal any abnormalities in the heart physiology and function. 

If a cat is showing signs like irregular heartbeat and breathing problems, the veterinarian will likely conduct an echocardiography. 

The veterinarian will also recommend additional tests, such as radiographies, thyroid level tests (TSH, T3 and T4) and blood pressure monitoring. 

What’s the Available Treatment for HCM in Cats?

Sadly, there is no cure for HCM. A cat with cardiomyopathy needs specialised care throughout their life. 

The treatment includes the management of the symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF), such as –

  • Heart rate
  • Prevention of blood clots
  • Reducing symptoms of lung congestion

Currently, there are new-age medicines that can help manage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). 

What’s the Prognosis of HCM in Cats?

Studies show that the prognosis of HCM in cats can vary significantly between two cats of the same age and breed. 

Cats with signs of CHF typically have very poor prognosis (median survival time is approximately 3 months). 

Since HCM is not present during birth but develops over time during adulthood, you need to get your cat’s heart health checked every year especially if you have a Persian cat, Ragdoll, Maine Coon and British Shorthair.

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