Heart Disease in Cats: The Basics

How common is heart disease in cats?

  • Studies have shown that as many as 1 in 6 cats have heart disease,1 even though most look perfectly healthy.
  • Some cats have heart disease for years before showing clinical signs, and many may never develop clinical signs. That’s why, until recently, heart disease in cats has been difficult to diagnose.

Which cats can get heart disease?

Heart disease affects all types of cats, including domestic shorthair and longhair varieties. Pure breeds, like these, can be especially prone to heart disease:

  • American shorthair
  • Maine coon
  • Persian
  • Siamese
  • Sphinx
  • Rag doll

Heart disease may be diagnosed in cats ranging from 3 months to 19 years of age. Younger cats tend to develop a more aggressive form of heart disease than adult or geriatric cats.

What’s the most common form of heart disease in cats?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • HCM causes the heart’s muscle to thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the body.
  • Thickening of the heart muscle can also be a natural response to other diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and hypertension. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to rule out these other diseases.

1 Paige CF, Abbott JA, Elvinger F, Pyle RL. Prevalence of cardiomyopathy in apparently healthy cats. JAVMA. 2009; 234(11):1398–1403.

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