A feline disease that we see in all cats, but mainly in Maine Coon cats, is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This disease is also seen in Ragdolls, Persians, British Shorthairs and the hairless Sphynx cats. It is the most common heart disease we diagnose in cats. We don't know what the cause is, but because we see it more commonly in certain breeds, we feel that it has a genetic component.
When you break down the name: feline - cat, hyper - increased, trophic - growth, cardio - heart, myo - muscle and pathy - disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy means the cat has an increase of the heart muscle causing a disease. Medical names are a group of terms that describe a condition, not a secret language. In this condition, the cat's heart muscles grows so much and the walls of the heart are so thick, so the chambers of the heart becomes small and inefficient in pumping blood.
Usually, early diagnosis is found by hearing a heart murmur. Ultrasound is used to confirm the diagnosis. Most cats in the early stages will not have any symptoms at all. In the late stages, cat owners will report lethargy, rapid or deep breathing or open mouth breathing. This is because fluids are accumulating in or around the lungs. In severe cases, clots may start to form in the heart due to blood turbulence and these clots will dislodge and travel down the aorta (the main arterial blood vessel) and the clot will lodge right where it splits to the right and left legs. This is painful to the cats and the cat will not be able to walk due to lack of blood going to one or both legs. Genetic tests to determine risk are now available.
Selective testing and breeding of cats may help prevent HCM. Once a cat has HCM, it is a progressive disease and we can administer medications to help manage the clinical signs; remove fluids from the lungs, slow the heart rate and prevent the formation of blood clots. Many cats will live years with HCM, if the condition is mild.
The final show of three annual cat shows is happening on Saturday, March 24 at The Filipino Community Center in Waipahu at 10 a.m. til 3 p.m. There will be different breeds of cats to see and the four international CFA judges have a wealth of information about cats. Admission is only $5.00 with discounts for seniors and children and a discount coupon in Midweek.
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