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Feline Congestive Heart Failure

The heart is obviously responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. With feline congestive heart failure, the vital organ won’t be able to pump blood efficiently anymore. This is obviously a major problem.

Congestive heart failure

To make matters worse, this disease isn’t curable. Cats that are diagnosed with it will likely need to take prescription medications on a daily basis for life. They’ll also be at risk of dropping dead suddenly at any time.



Causes

There are many reasons why congestive heart failure in cats occurs. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that can easily lead to the condition. Hyperthyroidism is another common condition. Defects present at birth as well as hypertension are two of the other many reasons why this heart condition can develop in your cat.

Signs

If your cat’s heart starts to fail, he will start having trouble breathing and be more tired than usual. He won’t play or exercise as much as he used to because of his weakened state. Fainting is also a common symptom caused by cat congestive heart failure. The mucous membranes will also have a pale color.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of this condition begins with the vet reviewing your cat’s medical history and also conducting a physical examination. If this disease truly is the problem, the vet may hear sounds of congestion when he listens to the chest with a stethoscope. This is due to the fact that this disease causes fluid to accumulate in the lungs.

A number of tests are useful in diagnosing feline congestive heart failure. To see if fluid has built up in the lungs, a chest x-ray can be performed. The x-ray will also let the vet see if there are any physical problems with the heart, such as it being enlarged or misshapen. It’s also usually necessary for your cat to have an echocardiogram performed. Tests on the blood and urine are also routinely conducted.

Treatment

As you have learned already, various things can cause cat heart failure. The reason that the condition develops will need to be addressed. Surgery may be necessary, especially in the case of defects that were present at birth. If the disease leaves your cat unable to breathe properly on his own, he will likely need to be hospitalized and given oxygen.

Buildup of fluid can especially cause breathing difficulty. Medications can be prescribed to help reduce this buildup. Other medications can be used to help the heart pump blood more efficiently also.

This serious disease requires owners to change their cat’s lifestyle. Cats that are normally quite active will need to be restricted somewhat. Cats with this condition need to get plenty of rest. They also shouldn’t be running and jumping around excessively. Feline congestive heart failure also requires periodic vet visits for x-rays and ultrasounds to monitor the disease.

Feline Heartworm Disease

Fortunately for cat owners, feline heartworm disease isn’t as prevalent a problem for them to deal with as dog owners. The feline heart is smaller than its canine counterpart. That’s why these invasive worms prefer canine hosts since they’ll have much more room.

Feline Heartworm Disease

However, cats can still become infected, just not as often. The disease is quite serious as it can easily prove to be fatal to cats. They don’t handle an infection of the worms very well. If the worms die soon after they reach their internal destination, the resulting reaction may be too much for the feline to handle. The parasite’s continued presence presents problems of its own too.



Causes

Mosquitoes harbor heartworm larvae. Whenever they bite a cat, it will become infected with the larvae. Once in the bloodstream, they will try to make their way to the blood vessels in the lungs or the heart.

Signs

Although these parasites cause a condition known as feline heartworm disease, the main problems occur in the lungs. They will block proper function, leaving cats unable to breathe properly. In its initial stages, this condition mimics the signs produced by congestive heart failure. The death of one or multiple worms isn’t particularly a good thing, as cats can just drop dead because of their demise.

Some of the most common symptoms of heartworm disease in cats include wheezing, gasping, and coughing. Appetite loss develops too. It is also quite common for felines to have episodes of vomiting as the disease progresses.

Diagnosis

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to diagnose feline heartworm disease. It takes numerous tests to confirm a suspicion such as x-rays, laboratory tests, and a heart sonogram.

Treatment

As difficult as diagnosis can be, treatment of this condition is even more difficult. Cats can’t be given medication to deal with the disease like dogs can. Surgery to remove the worms physically is also virtually impossible.

If it’s confirmed that your feline has heartworm disease, then the vet will have to monitor him closely until the worms die on their own. This can take a couple of years to happen. You will have to take your cat to the vet on a periodic basis to have chest x-rays done.

Cats with this disease will suffer a number of respiratory symptoms. Supportive care can be provided to help improve quality of life. Intravenous fluids and steroids can help tremendously. Cats that are really suffering respiratory problems may even need to be provided with supplemental oxygen.

Prevention

Despite the complicated life cycle of the larvae, it is necessary for a mosquito to bite your cat in order for him to develop this disease. Therefore, you can keep your cat from being bitten. That’s virtually impossible though, even if you keep your cat indoors.