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My Cat Has a Murmur?

Jul 3, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

What this abnormal cardiac sound means for your cat

Your kitty appears perfectly healthy. You take it in for a routine physical exam and the veterinarian informs you that your precious family member has a murmur.  How can this be?  What does this mean?  He runs around the house, eats like a horse and is borderline heavy on his weight.  This is a perfectly healthy cat!

A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that occurs as blood moves through the heart and the valves.  Your veterinarian detects it with a stethoscope during examination. Murmurs can be caused by congenital defects, acquired diseases such as hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, anemia or primary heart muscle or valvular diseases.

Some murmurs occur due to stress or excitement and elevated heart rate.  These murmurs are considered benign or innocent and do not cause problems with your kitty’s health.

Studies have shown that as many as 22% of “healthy” cats can have murmurs, unfortunately, the innocent murmurs cannot be differentiated from cats with actual heart disease. In addition, as many as 50% of cats with primary heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) that present to the veterinarian in heart failure will not have a murmur prior to presentation.

So, what should you do? Follow your veterinarian’s advice.  If your kitty seems anxious at the clinic and the heart rate is elevated, your veterinarian may ask to just recheck your kitty on a different day or ask you to leave your kitty for the day so he/she can become acclimated to the hospital.

Your veterinarian may ask to run tests to rule out diseases outside the heart that can cause murmurs, such as checking blood pressure, a thyroid test or a CBC to screen for anemia.  In some cases, a blood test called an NT-pro-BNP may be performed as well.  This test looks for stretching or damage to the heart muscle.

If your cat has evidence of elevated or abnormal respiratory sounds, or if the NT-pro-BNP test is abnormal, your veterinarian may request to check thoracic (chest) x-rays or perform a cardiac ultrasound.

If blood testing is abnormal, treatment of the underlying disease can often times eliminate the murmur. If your cat is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy it may be mild and just require monitoring. If disease is more severe medication may be prescribed.

In some cases, no disease will be identified, but most importantly, by following your veterinarian’s advice, you will be armed with information regarding your kitty’s health that allows you to have peace of mind and be pro-active in his/her care for life.

Dr Cindy McManis

Dr. Cynthia McManis received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1985. She developed her interest in cats during her first year post-graduation. She began to actively pursue more education and information regarding feline health care and joined the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1989. When the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners approved feline practice as a specialty board in 1995, she was in the first class to sit for the exam. She is 1 of 90 board certified feline practitioners in the country at this time. Dr. McManis founded Just Cats Veterinary Services in 1994.

Outside of her clinic cases, she is a feline internal medicine consultant for Veterinary Information Network, a web based resource for veterinarians all over the world. She has also served on several committees within the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She established an ABVP residency site at Just Cats in 2008 and mentors new graduates as well as seasoned practitioners who are interested in achieving ABVP certification.

Dr. McManis is an avid triathlete and is constantly training for races. She completed her first Iron Man in May of 2012. She is owned by 2 home kitties- Amante (“Monty”) and La Mariquita (“Mari”), and 2 hospital kitties- Momma Kitty and O’Malley.

Just Cats Veterinary Services
1015 Evergreen Circle
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: (281) 367-2287
Email: vets@justcatsvets.com

Website: http://www.justcatsvets.com/
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