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C2009-23

Dear Christopher Cat

My 10-year-old cat died during a dental procedure. The veterinarian who did the post-mortem exam diagnosed cardiomyopathy, which hadn’t been recognized because my cat had no heart murmur. How common is cardiomyopathy in cats that seem perfectly healthy?

Christopher Responds

It’s much more common than was once thought.

In a recent study of 103 apparently healthy pet cats, cardiac ultrasound showed that 16 had cardiomyopathy, a heart (cardio-) muscle (-myo-) disorder (-pathy.) Veterinarians heard heart murmurs in only five of the 16.

Cardiomyopathy, the most common heart disease to afflict us cats, usually is inherited.

Various forms of the disease exist, but each shares the same deceptive feature: It hides silently for years and then suddenly attacks, causing congestive heart failure and breathing difficulties, depositing a clot that blocks blood flow to the back legs -– or triggering sudden, unexpected death.

You have our sympathy.

 

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