Heart disease in cats can best be prevented through annual veterinarian examinations and feeding an appropriate diet. In cases where the heart condition is caused by inherited genetic conditions or an anatomic abnormality in the heart, early diagnosis can help to manage heart health and prolong the cat’s quality and duration of life.
Preventing Heart Disease in Cats
Symptoms of heart disease in cats are normally not noticed until the condition is rather advanced, at which point severe heart damage may already have occurred. However, many times regular veterinary check-ups can catch heart problems earlier rather than later, simply through the veterinarian’s auscultation of the heart and lungs (listening to heart and lung sounds with the assistance of a stethoscope). Appropriate blood screening tests for conditions that can adversely affect the cat’s heart, such as heartworm infection and hyperthyroidism, may also identify these conditions before heart function is severely impaired.
Dilated cardiomyopathy used to be a common caused of feline heart disease. It was primarily caused by a taurine deficiency in commercial cat foods. That problem has largely been corrected, and DCM is now uncommon in companion cats. However, cats and kittens that are fed a home-made diet that is not well-balanced and supported with appropriate nutritional supplements are still at risk of developing a taurine deficiency and subsequent DCM. Feeding your cat a premium-quality, well-researched cat food made by a reputable company will prevent most cases of DCM.
Certain cat breeds are more prone to develop heart disease, suggesting a genetic component which is difficult to prevent unless affected animals and their offspring or close relatives are removed from the gene pool by being spayed or neutered. These breeds include Ragdolls, Persians, Maine Coons and American Shorthairs. Owners should familiarize themselves with the symptoms of heart disease and ensure that their cat’s heart is assessed regularly.