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Scared to post... heart murmur?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
For those who haven't been following Maki's story...

I adopted her on Jan. 6th from a shelter. She's 8yo (and no, the shelter did not give any health garantee because of her age). She developped an URI because of the stress and I'll leave out the details but I visited the vet 3 times in the last week. I'm in 500$ so far.

Now the first time I brought her, the vet thought she heard a little gallop in her heart rythm. Once Maki had been in for a few minutes and calmed down, it was gone.

On the second visit, she was in bad shape and very stressed, and then the vet said she was pretty sure she was hearing a gallop.

Last night (on the last visit hopefully!), Maki was extremely stressed, litterally trembling with everything she has and that's when the vet heard a heart murmur.

We had already done x-rays of her chest about her URI and the heart seemed normal. She does cough but it seems to be cold-related since she coughs when her throath is massaged.

I can't afford an ultrasound. And although my heart wants to do EVERYTHING for her, I have to put a limit and I tell myself I'm already extending her life by having taken her from the shelter.

She's a happy cat and doesn't seem to be suffering at all for the moment.

My question is - seems the murmur is only audible when she's under SERIOUS stress. Is is possible it's not a murmur at all (this actually happened with my horse but the vet said she's sure)?

Is it reasonnable to just let her be until she settles with us and clears her URI and take her to a different vet in 6 months to get a second opinion?

All this stress (being dropped at the shelter, moved house, 3 vet visits, being sick...)has to be taking a toll on her...

Any words of encouragement or thoughts are apprecited! (just please don't scold me for not having money for an ultrasound... )
post #2 of 18
I'm sorry to hear your cat may have a heart murmur. I can't offer much advice as I don't know much about heart murmurs but one of my cats was diagnosed with a mild heart murmur one year when he had his annual health check. It was only a grade 2 murmur and the vet didnt' see the need for an ultrasound and just told me to keep an eye on him for signs of lethargy, shortness of breath or poor appetite. He was fine until he died from something unrelated a few years later. Did your vet say what grade murmur your cat has? An ultrasound isn't always necessary, although it can help to set your mind at rest. Did the vet advise any other treatment if you didn't have an ultrasound?
post #3 of 18
First let me tell you how sorry I am to hear about your kitty. Maki sounds like she has been through alot since jan. Coming home from the shelter and 3 vet visits, that is a lot.

My cat is almost 14 yrs. old and was diagnosed with a heart mummer about 4 years ago. They told me unless they see any problems from, such as breathing, energy level or other related problems, then we don't really have to do anything for it.

Well she has had no problems related to her murmer. She did start having siezures last July, but that was because of her thyroid, then they even did an x-ray of her heart and there was no problem.

Don't feel bad about not having the ultrasound. It sounds like you have been taking such good care of her and she will have a loving home.
I would leave her be and just watch her. Having an ultrasound actually might put more stress on her, and i don't think that will be good for her.

I wish you and Maki all the best....I am so glad she is out of the shelter and in a home now, and I bet she is to!
post #4 of 18
Oh please dont feel bad, you are doing the very best that you can, and you are obviously giving her a warm and loving home Shes been through a lot, bless her little soul, so no wonder she is stressed.
My Dino has a heart murmur, and like the others, my vet(s) have always said the same, watch out for any other signs. He was even given the all clear to fly.
He´s now coming up 13 and he´s fine
Anyway I agree with the others and an ultra sound would put more stress on her and may not tell you any more than you have aleady been told.
For whats it worth and I am not an expert but my view is let her settle into a routine in your home, she will get over the URI and you will be able to monitor her whilst she does
Heres sending lots of positive healthy (((((( vibes))))) for little Maki
Keep us posted
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
You are all so kind!!!

This is making me feel so much better. Maki is such a big luv bug and all I want to do now is get to know her and make her feel at home.

I'm going to try to stop stressing about her health since she seems to have forgotten about her sniffles and is hamming it up. The whole idea behind adopting a cat was to help me release stress...

We'll both start doing that together. Thanks again. I appreciate it!!!

I'll concentrate on taking more pictures of her to post now. lol
post #6 of 18
Heart murmurs are not uncommon in cats and in people. My daughter had one when she was born, but grew out of it. Ihave had cats with minor murmurs who lived to old age. So unless it is a very serious one (and it sounds as if it is not) then I would not worry. Just make sure it is listened to at each annual examination to see if it is worse or better. Poor you and poor Maki - you have both been through a lot. I hope it gets better.
post #7 of 18
Stress will definitely make the murmur worse, maybe temporarily. My Lily was two years old when she was given up to the SPCA by a couple. I was told she came with three other cats, and I think a dog or two. The couple who had her were divorcing, so there was probably some fighting because she gets very upset if there's any yelling at our house.

We've had her a year now (she's three) and since then our vet has downgraded her murmur from a 3 to a 1. I asked her (the vet) if the murmur is better because of happiness, and she replied, "No doubt."

I'll bet your Maki will thrive, and I wouldn't be suprised if her murmur gets better, too.

Here's some pics of Lily that I just posted, before and after:


Cheers, from
post #8 of 18
Similar story. My first vet told me that my cat had a heart murmur and wanted me to get an EKG. The second vet I went to couldn't even detect a murmur and didn't seem concerned.

Also, we had one family cat that had a heart murmur his whole life and lived to be 15... died of something unrelated.
post #9 of 18
Somewhat of a similiar story here too. My RB kitty Sphinx was a rescue from a shelter at 16 years old with no health guarantees. He was found to have a grade 3 heart murmur and the vet wasn't too worried as long as we kept a watch for anything unusual. She also didn't rush in for an ultrasound so don't feel too bad. He passed on 2 years late of something unrelated to the murmur. Just keep an eye on her for anything unusual. And keep an eye on it (along with your vet) at her check-ups.

Right now just let her settle in and to recover from her URI. Good luck with her.
post #10 of 18
Has she had a thyroid test? Often there is a heart murmer associated with thyroid problems. I adopted a cat that has some thyroid "symptoms" and the shelter hadn't had time to test her, so they paid for the thyroid test. You might see if the shelter had drawn blood - since 8 years does qualify as a senior kitty.

I'm happy that she seems to be getting over her URI, though!
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your replies and reassuring stories!

The vet called with the blood test results yesterday and everything is perfectly normal there (we were especially looking for thryoid problems as kluchetta suggested).

She's still showing a little bit of her inner eyelid in the corners and her breathing I find is a little fast and shallow, but I'm trying not to worry too much and to just let her relax and settle. She's eating well and snuggling with us like there's no tomorrow.

Hopefully she can make a full recovery. I love to bits already.
post #12 of 18
I hope she can make a full recovery as well! She might just need time to settle down. Relax a little. It's normal for a cat to be stressed for months after moving into a new home. Everything's so different.
post #13 of 18
I don't have a cat related story to tell about your situation, but a human one. I was diagnosed as having a heart murmer at the age of 26. The Dr. thought I'd probably had it since birth and had no idea how no one had detected it before. I also have anxiety disorder so my heart thumps pretty hard when I go to the Dr's! I've since developed arrhythmia which may or may not be related. I take Coenzyme Q 10 and hawthorne and it manages it just fine. I have to avoid stress as much as possible, and get tired easily so I am a happy homemaker now and get to take a nap every day!

I know I can live a happy healthy long life with my condition and am confident that your kitty can as well. It sounds like we have a lot in common. If the vet stresses her out that much I'd avoid going back. She'll do just fine with your love and care at home. Congratulations on your new kitty!
post #14 of 18
The gallop is of more concern to me personally. A gallop arrhythmia is pretty much what it sounds like - instead of the heart making a sound like "bum-BUM, bum-BUM, bum-BUM", it sounds more like "badum-BUM, badum-BUM, badum-BUM", with three distinct sounds. It's never normal. A heart murmur is often benign but in conjunction with an arrythmia, it's very suggestive of serious heart disease.

I would recommend saving toward an ultrasound by a cardiologist but if that's not possible then the next best thing would be an x-ray and for your vet to do the best s/he can in terms of prescribing the best medication if needed. Heart diseases like cardiomyopathy are very serious but cats can do well for years with proper management.
post #15 of 18
An echocardiogram, not an ultrasound, is what is used to diagnose heart murmurs.

Gizmo had a murmur last spring when she was at the vets for an unrelated incident. We had an echocardiogram done (which the insurance company refused to pay for, claiming that it was a 'pre-existing condition'--what a waste of money!)

Anyway, there it was: obvious thickening of the left ventricle. Some form of cardiomyopathy was definitely there, the vet said. I cried for three days. Gizmo was calm as usual.

Now, nearly a year later, she's had three checkups and there's no repetition of the murmur. She may stilll have permanent damage to her heart, but it does not sound as if it is getting worse. I chalk this up to Gizmo's removal from a stressful situation where she was 'terrorized' by a dog in her last home.

It seems that only two weeks of stress can permanently damage the cat's heart.

Gizzy is happy and stress free where she is now, and she eats a better diet...so even though that is no guarantee she will live to a ripe old age, it does guarantee that I never take her for granted.

Enjoy and love and pet your cat while you can, and chances are that will be best medicine for the condition (along with good food and weight loss--thin Gizmo had to drop a pound after her heart condition was diagnosed, and did so on rabbit meat, not chicken!)
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
She's looking better and better! She's sneezing and coughing a whole lot less.

She has already had a chest x-ray and everything looked normal. The heart is not enlarged as of yet. I do understand what a gallop is.

I'll definitely have it monitored but I can't afford the ultrasound (I don't think I should expose my personnal finances to debate this). I'll do everything else I can for her.

For now she's settling in, and once she's rested and adjusted, we'll visit another vet. Thank you for all your help, input and support!
post #17 of 18
I think that seeing another vet just to be on the safe side once Maki is feeling better is a good idea! I hope that she can finally get healthy & settle into your home. Poor kitty deserves to have a good life.
post #18 of 18
My white cat have heart murmur since age 9 and now he is 13, still very active and no sign of illness other than fall asleep very easy(age maybe). There is really nothing you can do with heart murmur, so enjoy every sec your with her. Good luck.
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