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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is condition characterized by a thickening of the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) and not attributed to other medical conditions (such as high blood pressure). It can, in severe cases, cause heart failure when fluid accumulates in the lungs. Blood clots, too, can form in the heart and travel to distant blood vessels obstructing blood flow to one or more limbs (especially the back legs). HCM can be mild to life-threatening.

Males of the Maine coon cat, Persian cat and Ragdoll cat breeds are most likely to be affected along with cats ages 6 months to 4 years, though all ages can be affected.

The main causes of HCM are genetic. Factors that can precipitate difficult breathing and/or heart failure in a cat with HCM include: fever, infection, stress (yes, even a veterinarian visit!), anesthesia and/or sedation and intravenous administration.

What To Watch For

  • Noisy, difficult, open-mouthed breathing
  • Sudden inability to use one or more limbs
  • Odd posture of squatting or lying with chest down, head extended and elbows pointed outward
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Inactivity

    See your veterinarian immediately if you see these signs.

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