Cardiomyopathy in Cats
There are two forms of cardiomyopathy: dilated (the heart wall becomes thin) and hypertrophic (the heart wall thickens). The former has recently been linked to some cats’ need for larger amounts of taurine (an amino acid) or inefficient way of absorbing this nutrient from the gastrointestinal tract. The heart-muscle changes have been reversed by twice daily giving 250 milligrams of taurine, which is available in health-food stores.
The clinical signs of dilated cardiomyopathy are lethargy, decreased appetite, and breathing difficulties. The cat with the hypertrophic form may display fainting, seizures, coughing, breathing difficulties, lethargy, or stroke-like signs – inability to move the back legs, for example.
An echocardiogram (ultrasound) is the best procedure for diagnosing and differentiating cardiomyopathies, because an electrocardiogram may appear normal. All cats over seven years of age should be checked for hyperthyroidism.
To help prevent the dilated form always use a well-known cat food that is supplemented with taurine. Do not use generic cat foods!
The following are some common diseases related to Cardiomyopathy in Cats.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – The disease is caused due to the enlargement of the chambers of the heart and weakening of the heart muscles. The weak heart muscles fail to pump out the blood completely from the heart and as a result of which the internal organs of the body are supplied with less quantity of blood.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Restrictive cardiomyopathy – In case of the Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM the inward thickening of the heart muscles occurs Due to the thickening of the inward muscles the total volume of blood-holding capacity of the heart reduces. In Restrictive cardiomyopathy or RCM fibrosis or scarring of the heart muscles takes place resulting in less capacity of the heart to expand up to its normal range while pumping in and out of the blood.
Congestive heart failure – The signs of congestive heart failure in cats consist of breathlessness and lethargy and loss of appetite. The coughing symptom of the disease is absent in cats though present in dogs. In cats, the symptoms of breathlessness take place when due to prolonged heart illness venous pressure is created. The venous pressure leads to the leaking of heart fluid into the tissues of the lungs (pulmonary edema) and around the lungs (pleural effusion) which ultimately causes breathlessness and a feeling of lethargy.
Thromboembolic disease – The stasis of the heart occurs when the heart muscles no longer can pump in and out the blood. Usually, in the left atrium, the clotting of blood or the development of an embolus leads to sudden obstruction of the hind limbs and the tail. The tail and the limbs become cold hard and painful when touched.
General Treatment for Cardiomyopathy in Cats
Prescribing diuretic drugs like frusemide helps in draining out the liquid leaking into and around the lungs.
Prescribing drubs would help the smooth execution of the heart functions. Drugs like angiotensin-converting enzymes should be given to reduce the workload of the heart, Calcium channel blockers to relax the muscles of the heart, and Beta-blockers to reduce the heartbeat rate if the heartbeat rate becomes excessively high.
Hypertension in cats is one of the primary reasons behind weak hearts and drugs like amlodipine should be given to balance the blood pressure.
See more: Bandaging a Cat