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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 10211
Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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My 5 year old DSH cat has developed a heart murmur this year

Customer Question

Hello. My 5 year old DSH cat has developed a heart murmur this year (discovered during a routine checkup). Two vets have graded the murmur at between a II-IV. Both seem a bit perplexed because apparently, on one listen, the murmur is very audible on both sides of chest, then on another listen, or in a different location, it's much harder to detect. It does seem to become louder the more stressed she is (vet office visit compared to a home vet visit). She has never had a murmur before and is the absolute picture of good health: great coat, great appetite, great energy and attitude, never pants when playing hard, pink gums, no cold extremities and not particularly heat seeking. Can I know anything without an echocardiogram or is that really the only way to be sure that she doesn't have progressive heart disease? Is there any possibility that this is NOT heart disease? I know that kittens often have heart murmurs and then outgrow them, but she seems too old for that scenario, but also too young and healthy for significant heart disease.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. John replied 12 months ago.

Hello. Thanks for writing in. My name is***** and I would be happy to help you. If there is a murmur, then it is related to heart disease. At her age, she would have outgrown any murmur as a kitten if it was an innocent murmur. A murmur doesn't necessarily mean significant heart disease, though. It may be sub-clinical and not give her any problems at all. This is the same in a lot of people as well. In order to fully evaluate the heart, the echocardiogram is a must. There is no way around it, and it is recommended to do so to get a baseline reading. If there is some significant increase in size or changes in the heart, then it is possible she may need to go on medication to decrease the amount of work the heart has to do in order to pump the extra blood volume from the back flow of blood in the heart (what causes the murmur). Your vet can do an x-ray of the chest to see if there is general enlargement of the heart, but the echo is necessary to look at the heart chambers, valves and heart wall thickness, which is important. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. If you are satisfied with my response, please rate it. Hope this helps.

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