Categories: heart disease

California’s wildfires that burnt domestic cats also damaged their hearts and caused blood clots

I was surprised to read a study published on 14 February 2020 on the website which concluded that domestic cats with thermal burn injuries from the California wildfires showed that they had heart disease and blood clots as well. The technical term is that they suffered with myocardial thickening (thickened heart muscle) as a result of the fires together with intracardiac thrombi (blood clot where the blood enters the heart).

Singed tabby cat rescued from California fires

I would never have imagined this being an unqualified medical person. But apparently there is a link in humans with high temperatures and heart attacks. Firefighters have a higher heart attack risk because they work in high temperatures. Apparently the high temperatures thicken the blood which might be a cause of blood clots as it enters the heart (intracardiac).

I couldn’t find any definitive answer on the Internet as to why cats caught in the fires suffer from myocardial thickening which can cause a narrowing and a reduced blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. Myocardial thickening occurred in 18 out of 51 cats and blood clots formed in 16 out of the 51 cats. Of these cats 42 survived and were discharged and six died or were euthanised due to a possible cardiac cause.

The study itself does explain the link between the high temperatures and smoke inhalation suffered by the cats and heart disease but it is very technical and therefore difficult to understand for a layperson. In layperson language they say that there is a surge in the chemicals produced by the brain when the body is under stress which leads to a much increased metabolic rate which in turn increases oxygen flow to the heart muscles which in turn perpetuates cardiac stress. This leads to the enlarged muscle, as I understand it. Also there is marked inflammation (an inflammatory response) which leads to increased work by the heart.

Cats caught in wildfires are both burnt and suffer from smoke inhalation. The same sort of link between cardiovascular injuries (as I’d call them) and thermal burn injuries combined with smoke inhalation are also found in humans.


California wildfires caused heart disease and blood clots in cats


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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