Today was a beautiful very mild sunny afternoon, and my 8 year old HCM kitty accompanied us up to the barn to lie on the porch in his favorite spot overlooking the valley below. After 45 minutes or so, we noticed open mouth breathing and a faster respiration rate as he was reclined on the barn porch. When I went to investigate, he got up to walk toward the house and appeared to have a slightly wobbly gait on the backend. He hunkered down on the ground and as I scooped him up, he vocalized once. I immediately called to my husband that he appeared in distress. Off we went to the emergency clinic 15 minutes away from our house fearing a saddle thrombosis was occurring.
Moe is currently in an oxygen chamber and appears to be doing well although he was in respiratory distress when we entered the emergency front door. X-rays revealed only a very slight build up of fluid in the lungs. Blood tests normal. The cardiologist will be in tomorrow morning and an echo will be done. He is sitting up and there is circulation and warmth to the back legs so it doesn't appear to have been a "clot event" at this point but we really don't know. I definitely felt an elevated heart rate as he lied on my legs on the way to the clinic and I suspect some kind of heart arrhythmia event. It's very scary to watch someone you love struggle to breath.
Today was such a disappointing day for us as the last few months have been so good for Moe. Moe's diagnosis a year ago was "severe" with a heart murmur grade of 3. It's been a difficult year but we finally had stabilized him on a protocol of furosemide, enalapril, atenolol, potassium, ubiquinol, and lovenox. We are working with a very respected cardiologist specializing in his breed in his treatment and do regular blood work, x-rays, ultrasounds, etc. to follow his condition. He'd finally regained the weight he'd lost since a year ago. His eating and drinking has been good for several months (no longer syringe feeding him), his respiration rate good, and his behavior pretty much back to normal. He was finally sitting in my lap tapping my cheek again for attention, curling up next to me in the bed at night, and sitting on my laptop (per normal) asking for cuddles. It's been a long emotional road because only a few short weeks ago, we were mystified as he changined his daytime/night time sleeping spot (almost weekly) to isolate himself somewhat - a behavior that occurred only after his diagnosis. We moved the food and water bowls to his new spots respectfully allowing him "his space" but encouraging him to come back into the more public areas of the house. These past few weeks, we thought we were making headway on this horrible disease.
This has been a very expensive battle for us but we don't regret a penny as we love this animal dearly and we're hoping to beat the 1 1/2 year estimate given by the cardiologist for his life expectancy. I've had a year to prepare myself for the fact that there is an "expiration date" on his heart but I can honestly say that I feel no better prepared for the day he will leave us than the day he was first diagnosed. I hate to think we are starting down the road to a failing heart with repeated arrhythmic events ahead. This is the greatest cat and we are trying to give him the best life possible.
Forgive the long post, but are there measures we should take in the event of a future similar episode (other than rushing him immediately to the ER which we will always do)? For those of you with asthmatic kitties, is there any recommended apparatus that could safely provide him oxygen as we head out the door to the ER? Any advice would be appreciated and I'd love to hear how others have handled similar episodes and their successes and/or failures. Are repeated arrhythmia's to be expected as this condition progresses?
I will keep the group apprised as I get additional information on his condition tomorrow. I am very disheartened at this point.