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New member--cat has heart murmur

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  • dshale1
    Hi, I am new to this forum but like most new members I m worried sick and I think there are many experts here that can give me some advice. Our cat is 9 years
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 2, 2007
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      Hi, I am new to this forum but like most new members I'm worried sick
      and I think there are many experts here that can give me some advice.

      Our cat is 9 years old. Last summer we noticed she was having trouble
      climbing stairs and jumping up to her favorite places. Our vet felt
      thickening of her knee joints and prescribed Cosequin. Three weeks
      later we brought her back for x-rays since she seemed worse. At this
      visit, our vet said he thought he heard a barely audible heart murmur
      but he didn't think it was significant. It was not there three weeks
      earlier when he examined her. Since he was doing x-rays of her legs
      and spine anyway, he also did several views of the chest.

      The x-rays showed degeneration of the knee joints but her heart and
      lungs were normal. Because of this, he said not to worry about the
      murmur because it was so slight.

      After a while on Cosequin she began to improve and after about three
      months was able to run up the stairs again and jump up, although
      sometimes she still favors one leg. Because it has glucosamine I also
      started feeding her Royal Canin for Maine Coons, although she is not a
      Maine Coon. We also got her weight down a pound, which I'm sure helped
      although she is still a little overweight.

      At her checkup a few days ago, however, the vet said her heart murmur
      was more apparent and he ordered bloodwork and an ultrasound. The
      cardiologist is all booked up for April so we have to wait until May,
      which means I have a month to worry about this. Our vet said that
      because the x-ray showed a normal heart size it might be a benign
      murmur but of course he can't tell for sure without the ultrasound.

      I should also mention that our cat has been on Flovent for several
      years due to mild asthma, but she hasn't coughed in two years and the
      vet said the Flovent would not cause a heart murmur.

      She doesn't have any symptoms of heart problems that I can tell,
      although she doesn't run around as much as she used to, but since her
      knees hurt that's to be expected. She can run up the stairs and she
      doesn't get winded. She was pretty scared at the vet's but she always is.

      I assume all this and the normal x-ray are good signs but the fact
      that the murmur is more audible is a bad sign. Is there anything I can
      do in the meantime to help her while waiting for the ultrasound? I am
      a little suspicious that the heart murmur started a few weeks after we
      started the Cosequin but I guess there is no connection. I also just
      noticed that the Royal Canin for Maine Coons contains extra taurine
      and carnithine for heart health. I offered her some CO-Q10 on my
      finger and she licked it off, but I don't know if I should start
      giving her this before the ultrasound shows whether there is a problem.

      Her bloodwork will be back tomorrow. The vet said sometimes things
      like anemia or hyperthyroidism can cause a heart murmur and those
      would show in the bloodwork, but she doesn't have any symptoms of those.

      Any advice, feedback, reassurance would be much appreciated.

      Thanks to all for reading this--
      Susan
    • Leah Ferron
      Susan, Welcome to you and your kitty (please let us know her name). I am glad that you found us. Please don t worry, it will get you nowhere but maybe get you
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 2, 2007
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        Susan,

        Welcome to you and your kitty (please let us know her name). I am glad that you found us. Please don't worry, it will get you nowhere but maybe get you some indigestion. Bad humor, I know, but I want you to feel better. We all know how hard it is to wait to get the answers we need.

        You are absolutely doing the best thing by getting the echo. It is the only sure way of knowing what is going on with your kitty's heart. Heart murmurs are not normal in a grown kitty and generally means something isn't as it should be. That being said, regular vets know very little about heart problems and your vet could be mistaken. Generally a heart murmur isn't mistaken but it is a good sign that her heart did not look enlarged on the x-ray. If your kitty's murmur is something like cardiomyopathy, you may just catch it before any signs show. That would be very good. Early detection of heart disease does not come often in the kitty world because they are masters at hiding their diseases. If your kitty has a heart problem, you would probably be at the beginning stages and able to fight the disease better than most of us have. With proper medication and a combination of supplements, like the CoQ10 you mentioned, it would really give her a leg up (no pun intended). If you
        wanted to start supplements before the echo, you could. Most vets say the supplements won't hurt but won't help either. We disagree. If you want more info on supplements, just email me.

        Your vet is right in that there are things like thyroid problems that can cause heart problems so it is good that you are having the bloodwork done. The cardiologist would probably request it anyways. Be sure to take copies of all the tests with you to the exam including the x-rays.

        Be sure to ask us any questions that you may have even if it isn't heart related because it often is. Also, read some recent postings so that you can develop questions for the cardiologist before the exam. If the cardio sees that you are a concerned owner willing to help your pet, they will be more willing to work on the problem, should there be one, than to just give up (as some of us have experienced). I am not trying to scare you but to inform you. Education is your best tool for defense in heart problems. Glad to have you both!

        Leah and her cats and Angel Alec




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      • Leah Ferron
        This was meant for the group too. dshale1 wrote: Thanks, Leah. Our cat s name is Pye. It is very upsetting for my husband and me to watch
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 3, 2007
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          This was meant for the group too.

          dshale1 <Dshale1@...> wrote: Thanks, Leah. Our cat's name is Pye. It is very upsetting for my
          husband and me to watch her have these problems--the asthma wasn't so
          bad because it was always mild and the Flovent controlled it
          completely. But seeing her limp around from the joint disease has been
          hard on us, and now this. Our other two cats have been pretty healthy,
          never anything serious, so it seems unfair she is having all these
          problems.

          Thanks for your encouragement as well. Our vet owns the oldest
          felines-only clinic in the city and we have a lot of trust in his
          diagnostic skills. Also, he is good for me because I tend to be an
          alarmist and worry about the smallest thing with our cats and his
          manner is reassuring and sensible.

          The veterinary specialist we took Pye to for consultation on her joint
          x-rays asked why our vet took so many views of her chest and I said
          because he thought he heard a faint heart murmur. So I know he looked
          at her heart from many angles. The specialist also said her heart
          looked normal although of course he is not a cardiologist either. The
          x-rays were done in early Sept., however, so I suppose something might
          have changed since then.

          My concern with giving Pye the CoQ-10 was that it might make her heart
          look better on the ultrasound than it does now so we wouldn't really
          know the true state of her health.

          The cardiologist comes to the vet clinic to do the ultrasounds so she
          will have all the x-rays and information right there. If they will let
          me be there I certainly want to be but at this point they said
          normally they have you drop off the cat in the morning and then come
          pick her up when the cardiologist is done. I am going to ask if I can
          just sit and wait. I would rather talk to the cardiologist directly
          than have my vet relay the information to me.

          We are feeling really bad right now because we think this is our fault
          for not keeping Pye from getting overweight. I know the joint problems
          are due to her being overweight and of course heart problems are more
          likely in overweight cats too. At one time, when her asthma started to
          flare up, she was up to 14 lbs. because she felt so bad she would just
          eat and sleep. Now she is just under 12 pounds but 11 would be ideal.

          Thanks to all who have responded. This is really scary and I know you
          have all been here. It is hard to wait.
          -Susan





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        • Leah Ferron
          Susan, We all understand how hard it is to see our kitties in any kind of distress. My husband always jokes that if I had to choose between him and the
          Message 4 of 6 , Apr 3, 2007
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            Susan,

            We all understand how hard it is to see our kitties in any kind of distress. My husband always jokes that if I had to choose between him and the kitties, the kitties come first. Because he is a man, and they are always right, I do not fight him over the statement (he he he). All kidding aside, please don't think any of what is happening to Pye as your fault. Pye is a much loved kitty and I bet if you asked her if she would live her life over again like it is - she would. A lot of what happens is genetic, especially the heart stuff.

            If you want to wait to give the CoQ10, that's OK. I don't think the CoQ10 will make the heart look better. It generally helps to slow down the progression of the disease. Nothing can reverse the harm already done (except in rare occasions like with hyperthyroidism or taurine deficiency) so I wouldn't worry too much about that. But if you feel better waiting, then do it.

            Be sure to cherish your time with her rather than worry, if you can. Loving her as much as you can will never be an act that you regret - worrying may be.

            Leah and her cats and Angel Alec




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          • dshale1
            Thanks for your kind words, Leah. I have started giving Pye the CoQ10 since the general consensus seems to be that it can t hurt and might help. Plus, she
            Message 5 of 6 , Apr 3, 2007
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              Thanks for your kind words, Leah.

              I have started giving Pye the CoQ10 since the general consensus seems
              to be that it can't hurt and might help. Plus, she licks it willingly
              off my finger so it's easy to do. I had 100 mg. capsules on hand--I
              think this is probably too much so I only squeeze out about half and
              take the rest myself. Does that sound about right?

              I was just told that the ultrasound would not be until May 14--I don't
              know on earth I can stand to wait that long. They put me on a waiting
              list for a cancellation in April, but my husband says who would cancel
              an appointment to get an ultrasound of their cat's heart? I am sure
              everyone else gets just as frantic about it as we are.

              We are naturally paying more attention to Pye (partly looking for
              signs she may be sick, although she seems the same as ever)and trying
              to keep the other cats from annoying her. If she does have a heart
              problem, it's just so hard to imagine because she seems happy and
              healthy, except for her bad knees. But from what I've read, the fact
              that the cat seems healthy and playful doesn't mean much when it comes
              to heart disease.

              I guess you are right, that with heart problems it might be genetic. I
              mean, my sister had a very obese cat who never got heart disease and
              my brother in law also has a 15 year old fat cat that has kidney
              problems but not heart disease. These cats are/were a lot fatter than
              Pye ever was.

              Someone mentioned checking the gums to see if they are pale or blue, I
              think. How do you tell when the cat's gums are naturally dark, since
              she is a grey cat?
              -Susan
            • Leah Ferron
              Susan, If you are checking gums for hydration purposes, you want them to be slick and wet. If they are tacky, then Pye may be dehydrated. It is more difficult
              Message 6 of 6 , Apr 4, 2007
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                Susan,

                If you are checking gums for hydration purposes, you want them to be slick and wet. If they are tacky, then Pye may be dehydrated. It is more difficult with dark gums to check color. But if the gums are naturally pink and not black like Pye's then you don't want the gums to be white and colorless.

                Leah and her cats and Angel Alec




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