This is a concise overview of heart failure in cats. The major reference source is the renown: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – I highly recommend it for all cat caretakers.
Heart failure is what it sounds like; due to weakened heart muscles, the heart fails to pump an adequate amount of blood around the body of the cat. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients. A lack of oxygen affects the organs of the body. The symptoms of heart failure depend on which side of the heart is weakened.
Left-sided heart failure
Left ventricle1 falters. Signs/symptoms:
- lung congestion with accumulation of fluid in the air sacs brought on by exercise and stress.
- possible accumulation of fluid around the lungs
- shortness of breath
- early signs: fatigue and rapid breathing after exercise
- later signs: labored breathing, cat sits with head extended making room for free passage of air into lungs
- “coughs up bubbles of red fluid”
Right-sided cat heart failure
Right-sided heart failure in cats is less common that left-sided. Right ventricle2 falters. Symptoms/signs:
- fluid build-up in abdomen cavity – pot bellied (ascites)
- swelling in limbs
The cat’s heart is divided into four chambers: right and left atrium and right and left ventricle. The wall of the left ventricle is about three times as thick as that on the right3. The atria are the receiving chambers. The ventricles are the discharging chambers4.
The left ventricle pumps the blood around the body. The right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood that is received via the vena cava and right atrium into the lungs to be oxygenated3. Once it has passed through the lungs the blood returns to the left atrium and thence to the left ventricle for onward transmission via the aorta to the body.
Associated Pages to cat heart failure:
Cat Heart Disease Nutrition (new window)
Bengal Cats Heart Disease (new window)
Cat Heart Failure — Note: