Cats inherited a somewhat unfortunate survival instinct from their ancestors – they are great at hiding health issues. They hide heart problems as well, which means the problem can easily become life-threatening before getting noticed. Roughly 10 to 15 percent of cats suffer from some type of heart disease and it is difficult to see signs until they are in severe pain or trouble.
Heart murmurs and other cardiac problems often call for echocardiograms. This cardiac screening test is used to identify abnormalities and problems in the heart. Though the procedure is simple, a lot of cat owners are concerned about their pet’s safety. In this post, let’s learn more about cat echocardiograms and discuss in detail the life expectancy of cats with heart murmurs.
Cat Echocardiogram – A Complete Guide
An echocardiogram in cats is an ultrasound performed to see the structure and function of the heart in real-time. It is a safe and non-invasive diagnostic test that veterinary cardiologists use for pets suspected to have some kind of congenital or acquired heart disease.
Since it works in real-time, the test can prove to be highly beneficial in identifying diseases of heart muscles, heart defects, and issues with heart valves in cats. It also helps find out fluid around the heart, infections, and even cardiac tumors. The examination is performed using specialized equipment and no sedation is required in most pets. The cardiologist uses ultrasound images of the heart to create a 3D reconstruction of the organ to identify any abnormalities.
An echocardiogram in cats generally takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes and is safe and painless. The pet is usually laid on a padded table in such a way that the ultrasound probe can contact the chest wall. The cat should not experience any discomfort from the procedure and should feel and behave normally soon after.
How Much Does A Cat Echocardiogram Cost?
A cat echocardiogram is performed by a specialist with the help of specialized equipment in a veterinary office or hospital. The total cost of this test can vary depending on the veterinarian, the location, and the severity of the problem. A cat echocardiogram can cost anywhere between $100 and $500.
This test is often accompanied by other examinations like x-rays and blood analysis. The total cost can go up to $600 for regular veterinary clinics though others can charge a few hundred dollars extra depending on the location and expertise.
The cost includes cardiac ultrasound, results, analysis, and the diagnosis made by the vet. In more severe cases, you may have to consult a specialist for diagnosis and treatment, adding to the cost.
How Long Do Cats With Heart Murmurs Live?
While heart murmurs can be normal in younger cats, some older or middle-aged cats develop a severe form of heart disease often diagnosed by an echocardiogram.
The life expectancy of a cat with heart murmurs depends on the severity of the condition. Many cats show no adverse effects from heart murmurs and live a normal long life. If the disease is mild, the cat may not need any treatment until it becomes severe.
Cats with severe heart murmur accompanied by other conditions can also live for years if they respond to treatment. Different types of heart murmurs can be diagnosed based on the echocardiogram results and the exact treatment varies for individual cats.
While you can expect your cat to live a good life span with a heart murmur, the life expectancy reduces by about 6-18 months if it develops congestive heart failure from the heart murmur.
How Does A Heart Murmur Affect A Cat?
A heart murmur is a common condition in cats that veterinary doctors diagnose quickly with a physical exam. However, the majority of cats with this condition live a happy, normal life without any treatment required.
For a few cats, the murmur indicates a more serious underlying disease that needs to be addressed. Murmurs are classified into grades from 1 to 6 depending on the severity.
The way a heart murmur affects your cat depends on underlying conditions. Some of them are serious and life-threatening as compared to others. Innocent murmurs generally show no symptoms and indicate no serious disease. However, when a heart murmur is associated with a disease called cardiomyopathy, the cat’s heart walls thicken and the efficiency decreases. When severe, such cats can develop heart failure and even die.
Cardiomyopathy can sometimes cause strokes in cats from blood clots in the heart chamber. When clots flow with the blood, they cause an obstruction in the arteries supplying blood to the legs, brain, lungs, or kidneys, resulting in kidney failure, paralysis, or even sudden death. In normal cases, the cat shows no symptoms or signs of a heart murmur and lives normally.