Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in Cats

Overview of Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

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.

Below is an overview of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats followed by detailed information on the diagnosis and treatment of this serious disease.

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

See your veterinarian immediately if you see these signs.

Veterinary Care for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause and help guide subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize HCM, and exclude other diseases, including:

Treatment of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

There is no recommended treatment for very mild cases with no symptoms, but regular follow-up visits to your vet are vital. There may be an initial hospital admission and possible stay for severe cases. Severe cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are life-threatening.

Home Care

Give medications as directed and regularly observe your cat’s relaxed breathing rate. Learn to take the heart rate, record results and relay this information to your veterinarian regularly.

Minimize stressful situations. Many cats may be best kept as indoor only pets.

Preventive Care

This disease is thought to be genetic; therefore, there is no preventative care. Cats affected with this condition should not be bred.

In-depth Information on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Cardiomyopathy is a general word used to indicate heart muscle disease. Some cardiomyopathies have well defined causes, while the reason for other cardiomyopathies is unknown. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy are not specific, and many heart and lung diseases produce symptoms and clinical findings similar to HCM. The diagnostic tests recommended will help differentiate HCM from the following:

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are essential in recognizing HCM. Tests may include:

Treatment In-depth

Follow-up Care for Cats with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Optimal treatment for a pet with HCM requires both home and professional veterinary care with follow-up being critical. Administer prescribed medications and alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. Follow-up includes: