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Buddy May Have Heart Disease...

November 14th, 2006, 11:18 AM
Minnie, Pupsy, Baby, Tom, Sophie, Gypsy, Tommie, Starver, Mini, Pearson, Wheelbase, Kay, Kiki, Itty Bitty, Maui, and Beau the beloved -- they have all come into my life and stolen my heart, and unfortunately taught me more about veterinary issues than I ever wanted to know. You name it and I've seen it or done it (and paid dearly for it). Now I need help, widespread advice, because I'm just drained.

Last year I adopted two strays -- I live on a very busy road, and they'd have to be indoor cats, which I have never had. Anyway, Molly is about 1 year old and Buddy about 1 1/2. (Molly was found pinned by a rock under an abandoned house, and Buddy was part of a litter dumped off in a parking lot). Last week I took them both for their vaccines. (I decided to get everything because occasionally a "critter" actually finds it way into my basement and the cats love that!)

The vet listened to Buddy's chest for a long time and I got a bad feeling. Sure enough he told me that Buddy has a slight heart murmur (1 1/2). He told me he has no way of knowing if it's an "innocent" murmur or a symptom of actual heart disease without a cardiac ultrasound. He told me to bring Buddy back in two months to see if it's gotten louder, and meanwhile give him a baby aspirin every few days to help prevent blood clots (and sudden death or paralysis).

I've done some surfing on the net and my mind is just reeling. Buddy already had Bartonella when he came to me and we nursed him through it. He is a big (16 lb) yellow tiger who would be happy if I just sat home all day and held him. He is lolling on my keyboard as I type. Molly's still a little wild, Buddy is my sweetheart boy.

The only symptom I've noticed in Buddy is loud breathing from time to time, but give me a dime for every time I've heard that in a cat. Buddy is very active, very playful, very friendly, just a wonderful guy. The ultrasound is expensive (I am on Social Security Disability) but I want to do the best for him -- I can hardly stand not knowing what's going on here.

If we give him the ultrasound (the vet would let me pay on time) and find disease, which I know is prevalent in cats, then what -- medication for the rest of his life (which I hope is a long one, he deserves it and I deserve a cat who's healthy!!)?

Sorry if this post is long. This just looked like a good website to help us. Thanks.

November 14th, 2006, 12:24 PM
I can understand that your vet is trying to be thorough but.....I think that an ultrasound may be going a bit far, especially since it is a slight murmur and the cat is quite young. This is just my opinion, others may have differing opinions, but I have had a few pets with heart murmurs in the past and none of the vets I see has ever suggested an ultrasound. I happen to have a heart murmur myself and I don't have heart disease :D One of my dogs has a murmur and I have had 2 cats in the past who have had murmurs, both of them died from unrelated issues at a ripe old age so I really wouldn't worry too much. I do suggest getting it checked again in a few months to see if it has gotten worse, but I would guess that it won't. Also, how long does the vet want you to keep the cat on baby aspirin? I have never heard of heart murmurs having anything to do with blood clotting problems, and aspirin can create it's own set of problems if taken over the long term. Again, this is just my opinion, but I would get a second opinion from another vet. My gut instinct on this one tells me that your vet may be looking for the most expensive option to deal with an issue that is quite common and usually nothing to worry about. By the way, who told you that heart disease is prevalent in cats? I have owned many, many cats in my life and I've never had a single one that had heart disease.

November 14th, 2006, 06:57 PM
Thanks for the quick input. The baby aspirin is a precaution in the event that the murmur is due to cardiomyopathy, which I believe to be a thickening of the heart muscle, or valve disease. In either case it's easy for the cat to throw off a clot. I adopted a cat a few years ago, a stray named Kiki, and she really was the greatest, but when I took her up to get her shots they discovered a SEVERE heart murmur (they also discovered the had been spayed at one time). They suggested the baby aspirin in the interim while I decided what to do and what further tests to pursue if any. Kiki was a middle-aged cat and should have had a lot of years ahead of her, but 3 weeks after I got her, she woke up with dragging hind legs and shortness of breath on a Saturday morning and at that point there was nothing else to do for her. I have had old cats with congestive heart failure -- I guess something's gotta get them eventually -- but I never knew a cat as young as Kiki to have heart problems. (Though my cats have had just about everything else known to mankind. I think these cats choose me deliberately. They know I'll move mountains for them.)

What I've heard and read is that heart disease is more common in cats than in dogs. Male cats, especially. The vet who works with the lady who rescued Buddy, the lady I adopted him from, agreed with my vet that I should go ahead and get the ultrasound and medicate him as needed. My rescue lady told me she was frankly surprised at both these vets and she thought it was overkill. But can you imagine if I just ignore all this? I've had such heartache (no pun intended) with my cats. Just looking for more input and I'm reassured that your kitties with murmurs lived a long healthy life!

November 15th, 2006, 04:57 PM
My rescue lady told me she was frankly surprised at both these vets and she thought it was overkill

I agree with her. If the heart murmur gets worse in the next couple of months, then you may want to have the ultrasound done to find out why it got worse, but if it is only a slight murmur and isn't getting worse then I don't really think there's a need for an ultrasound right away. Again, this is just my opinion. I'm sorry about what happened to Kiki and I understand that you are afraid this might happen with your new kitty. I am seeing my vet on Monday, do you mind if I ask her opinion about heart murmurs and what she would do with regards to an ultrasound?

November 17th, 2006, 09:58 AM
Yes, please ask your vet. I know there are probably as many thoughts on this as there are vets (and cat people) but it isn't anything I've run into before (except for Kiki, who didn't even fit the "risk profile") and I feel like I need all the info, insights and opinions I can get. Thanks.

November 17th, 2006, 04:37 PM
My four month old cat has a heart mumour (I assume from birth) & on my last visit for her shots, it appears she still has it - My vet says it is quite common but usually goes away up to 6 months of age. If it does not go away it is not serious - as my cats is a grade one out of six. He said it is nothing to worry about and only if it ever got to a grade 3/4 then would it be worth doing some tests to see what is causing it. He said it could be something as a tiny as a pinprick size hole in a valve - which as she is a house cat is not of any great concern. I love my vets - I would recommend them to everyone :)

November 21st, 2006, 11:07 AM
So I asked my vet about it yesterday. She said heart murmurs are really common and not usually a cause for concern. She thinks an ultrasound is probably unnecessary at this point, especially in a cat that's so young, but if the murmur gets worse then you should have the ultraound done to find out why it's getting worse. She said most of the time she'd do an ultrasound on a pet who suddenly developed a heart murmur after not having had one before, but since your cat is only about a year and a half old he has probably had it since birth. She recommended you get your cat checked out in a few months and go from there, if the murmur is not worse then don't bother with the U/S.

November 21st, 2006, 12:44 PM
Thank you so much for the feedback and your own vet's opinion.

Buddy has only been twice to the vet -- his foster mom had him neutered and first shots given, and that vet didn't hear a mumur, but I'm not sure how complete that checkup was since this vet does all this lady's male cats for free (which is wonderful of her) but runs them all through pretty quickly. Second time was shortly after I got him when he developed a fever and vomiting, and the vet I use (same one who found a mumur) diagnosed him with Bartonella, but this was not a "well cat visit" so again I'm not sure how particular he was about listening to Buddy's heart.

So I'm hoping for the best (for a change) and meanwhile giving Bud his baby aspirin once a week (not TOO traumatic so far). I plan on bringing him back in February for a re-check. I sure am keeping my fingers crossed.

November 22nd, 2006, 05:20 AM
Dont know much about heart murmers in cats but we have a lot of them in boxers and dont do much unless they are giving problems.A lot of boxers with quite high graded murmers were Dopplered but still no medication unless there were problems and I know many of them live to a ripe old age(for boxers)without any trouble,it just alerts you to keep an eye on them b ut unless symptoms present would just enjoy your baby: