What is an Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular cardiomyopathy?

Our question this week was:

My cat was recently diagnosed with a condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular cardiomyopathy. What is it?


Anthony M. Columbus, Ohio


Hi – thanks for your email Anthony. Heart disease is relatively common in cats and there are several causes. The term cardiomyopathy literally means "disease of the heart muscle". There are several causes and classifications of this disease. For example, there is a condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in which the heart muscle is very thin and poorly contractile. There is another disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle is very think and almost too contractible (this is a very simple explanation). For more details – go to the links above.

There is another disease in which the right ventricular of the heart is abnormal (muscle loss and scar tissue form) making it prone to inducing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). This is a relatively less common condition in cats and is thought to affect about 4% of cats with heart disease.

This form of heart disease has only recently been described and is being studied and understood. It is known to affect cats at almost any age – from 1 year old to 20 years old and can affect either sex. It seems to be more common in domestic short-haired cats and in the Birman breed cats.

If you believe your cat has this condition, I'd recommend that you ensure you are seeing a board certified veterinary cardiologist.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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