Hello & My cat has HCM
- My 12.5 year old, indoor only cat was diagnosed with mammary cancer and very early signs of HCM in Jan 09. We were referred to a specialty veterinarian hospital, where she went through a radical mastectomy of her right mammary chain. Surgery was curative. Prognosis was a 1 cm adenocarcinoma removed with wide margins, with >3 years to live. In other words, it was caught early and surgery worked, and there was no need for chemo or follow up procedures!
Fast forward to late June, the first hot day of the summer. I noticed she was rapidly breathing from lying in the sun, via an open window. So I took her to back to the specialty vet, who diagnosed pulmonary edema, treated her, and sent me home with pill form Furosemide. She had another episode 11 days later, for which she was admitted overnight for treatment, and released the following day. She was put on Lotensin, along with the Furosemide, and became lethargic and stopped eating. A trip back to the vet diagnosed acute renal failure. The vet thought it was caused from the aggressive treatment for the last episode of heart failure in conjunction with the Lotensin that shut her kidneys down. So she was admitted again for 3 nights while the vet gave her carefully administered fluids to save her kidneys. Treatment worked, and she was sent home with the same Furosemide regimen (but was taken off Lotensin), and a bag of KD (kidney diet) food. She was rechecked every week with medication adjustments. Atenelol was added, Furosemide dose was upped to twice a day.
Then 26 days after the last episode of heart failure, (or 6 weeks ago tomorrow), she went into heart failure with plural effusion. There was no warning. I had been monitoring her breath rate, which had been high the evening before, but it had come back to her normal range by the end of the night, and was still normal in the morning when she woke me up to feed her. Then around 11:30am she began rapidly breathing. I monitored her for 30 mins before calling the vet. I was instructed to give her another dose of Furosemide and call them back in an hour. 45 minutes after the extra Furosemide dose, she lost her bladder and bowels and began yowling, with fluids coming out of her mouth while she panted with an open mouth for air. It literally happened that fast, and it was a terrifying car ride to the vet!
The vet put her in an oxygen chamber and injected Lasix, with no relief. X-rays and ultrasound showed fluid in the chest cavity (plural effusion). 175ml of fluid was drained from her chest, and by morning she was stable again. She had weekly vet appointments for 4 weeks after that episode, with blood work to check her kidneys. One week her levels were 2.9, the next at 5.1. then next at 2.9. Medications have been adjusted slightly each week to find the balance for her heart and kidneys.
The cardiologist still classifies her heart as mild to moderate HCM, according to ultra sound measurements, so the heart failure episodes are a bit of a mystery. Thankfully last week's recheck had her kidneys at 2.4, with 2.0 being normal. The Atenelol was upped to twice a day, the Furosemide is also given twice a day with option to give her an extra dose as needed on warmer weather days. She was put on aspirin on Aug 26, after collapsing while using her litter box when her back legs gave out on her. I was also given injectable Lasix and needle syringes to administer sub-cu doses if the pills aren't working fast enough when her breath rate increases, which typically happens when the weather gets warmer than 90F. I've had to use the injections on 3 separate days in the last 19 days. The injections have helped keep her out of the emergency vet!
This past weekend I found her laying in her litter box with a weird expression on her face and scared eyes. I pulled her out and cleaned her up, and she scampered off like nothing had happened. I've also noticed her back legs weaken on her while stretching, causing her to loose her balance. The back leg weakness started on Aug 26, and aspirin was prescribed to help prevent clots. Her weight had dropped as of last week, but she is gaining weigh again from me sitting with her while she eats (mostly to keep our other cat from bullying her away from her food dish). It's been hard to see her get weaker over the past two and a half months. She was a very active, fastidiously clean, and bossy indoor cat, never fearing to smack our other cat upside the head when he encroached on her territory. Now she is cautious and quiet. She doesn't play anymore, and cleans a lot less than she did. She still follows me around, sitting on my lap at night, and sleeping next to me, and she isn't in any pain. She also doesn't bite or scratch, and thankfully is easy to give medications to. She is also the type of cat who hides her symptoms, so I have to keep a close eye on her.
I'm glad to have found this forum. A search for leg weakness resulted in information I had not read before, and I have a call into my vet to find out if there is more that can be done to help strengthen my cat legs. I've heard from more than one person that cats can survive for 2+ years once medications are balanced. I'm a little leery of the naturopathic supplements since the naturopathic vet I did go to for help with recovery from cancer surgery, prescribed a supplement that was toxic to cat kidneys! Anyway, I look forward to reading the forums. Thank you for reading my story.