Types of Feline Heart Disease
For whatever reason, cats do not have the same amount of diseases that dogs do. However, that doesn't mean that cats are guaranteed long lives. Why? The answer can be found in feline heart disease, a group of conditions that causes a myriad of heart problems. This article will discuss the most common types of feline heart disease: dilative cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy and heartworms.
1. Dilative Cardiomyopathy
Dilative cardiomyopathy is a type of feline heart disease that causes the heart to become enlarged. Consequently, the heart becomes weaker as it cannot handle its original workload. As a result, fluid begins to accumulate throughout the body, especially in the chest cavity or the lungs. If the condition remains untreated, the valves within the heart may leak, resulting in a murmur or worse... pulmonary failure.
2. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
When it comes to feline heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common. What happens is that the walls of the heart become stiff. This causes problems with the heart's blood flow. As a result, the cat develops a murmur due to leakage within the heart's weakened valves. So, in this way hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is very similar to dilative cardiomyopathy. However, when it comes to treatment, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is much easier to cure. This is especially the case if the condition is caught in its earlier stages.
3. Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
When it comes to feline heart disease, restrictive cardiomyopathy is not as common. However, it does happen. And when it occurs, it will cause the walls of the heart to become stiffer. This is also common with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy except with one major difference. With restrictive cardiomyopathy, vets believe the stiffness is a result of scar tissue. They are not quite sure what causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, though there does appear to be a genetic link in some cases.
Heartworm infestation is a very unusual feline heart disease. Its cause is traced to parasites whose larvae live in the saliva of infected mosquitoes. This larvae gets into the cats skin through a bite. Subsequently, the larvae develop into adult heartworms who wreak havoc on the cat's organs. This is because the heartworms create a physical barrier for proper blood flow. They also release particles which produce gaps within the cats circulatory system. As a result the particles and the heartworm can travel to other parts of the body. This is why sometimes infected cats may have symptoms that do not even relate to the heart's functioning. In fact, some cats have even gone blind due to heartworm infestation.
In conclusion, even though cats do not suffer from as many conditions as their canine counterparts, pet owners still need to be aware of feline heart disease. They should also know that despite the seriousness of feline heart disease, usually there are no symptoms early on. That's why it's important that a cat gets regular physical exams. This is the only way to know for sure that the animal is not suffering from feline heart disease.