Re: when did you find out about you baby having cardiomyopathy?
- For whatever reason, it's not uncommon for senior cats, over age ten years but more likely those around 12-15 years, to develop HCM. As the cat ages, the body is prone to CRF, HCM, cancer, teeth falling out (unless owner brushes teeth 2-3x a week over the years), etc. It's less common that cats from birth have HCM or other heart disease. In either case, unless a heart murmur is detected or other symptoms present that indicate something might be wrong with the heart-weakness, heavy breathing, lethargy, hiding, pain, not eating-cats will seem to suddenly die when they've been dying a slow death all along. It's heart-breaking for owners because we wish we had known and done more. I have a cat whose HCM was detected at 8 months when she became ill with an unrelated infection but she had a heart murmur that had been detected at 4 weeks. At 4 weeks, the vet said simply to keep an eye on her. What they didn't say is that the symptoms to watch for-heavy
breathing, weakness, not eating, lethargy-are all signs that seem to suddenly show up just as the cat is failing which means it could be too late. And it was almost for my cat. Owners need to be as proactive as possible. Don't wait for signs. If a heart murmur is detected, the best thing to do is to have a proper echo done on the heart, avoid steroids until you know what is wrong with the heart (sometimes a murmur can be stress related and not an indication of a disease), and take an xray to see if the heart shows any signs of enlargement or any fluids in the heart or lungs. Even when a murmur is heard one time but not the next time, the heart needs to be checked out with an xray and an echo. For older cats, I would suggest that around age of ten that an xray be done of the heart and if the owner can, then also an echo, even when there are no signs or no indications that something might be wrong. It can be used as an example in the future to
compare future echos against. Then the owner should do another echo maybe in two years or in four just to make sure things are fine. By the time the cat is over 14, maybe each year. Of course, it depends on what the owner can afford because it can be expensive. Here, around $300. But at least the vet will be able to see any sudden changes or any onset of a change or disease with frequent xrays/echos of the heart and the owner can then take measures to provide the best meds and comfort and care for the aging/ailing cat.
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