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Heart murmur

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
We took our cat to the vet yesterday as he has been sneezing quite a bit lately and we also noticed he has a lump on his lip. The vet checked his heart and said that she detected a heart murmur and that we should get an ultrasound that will cost between $500 & $600. She then said that 50% of the time these murmurs turn out to be nothing, but that it could be serious and starts to talk about strokes and all this other stuff. My question is this, would you arrange to have the ultrasound done, or would you tend to go get a second opinion? This is not the vet we regularly see when we go and she seemed to be very abrupt and talking about all these terrible things when she really has no clue what the heart murmur means. We're supposed to go back to the vet in a couple of weeks if his lump hasn't gone away so they can put him under and remove it. I have read on the internet that you shouldn't put your cat under if they have a heart murmur and don't know what it causing it as it could be cardiomyopathy which can cause death when under anesthesia. Our vet didn't say anything about this when we were there which is causing us to have doubts about our vet.

Sorry for the long post, but what would you do? Anybody have a cat with a heart murmur?
post #2 of 14
How old is the kitten/cat in question? I've had several of my rex kittens show up with slight heart murmers at 2 months old and nothing at 7/8 months old.

If its only a slight one, then I don't think you need to do ultrasound. Why is your vet recommending it? If its something the vet thinks might be a problem then fine, but saying "it probably is nothing; yet tells you to do ultrasound" is a bit confusing.
post #3 of 14
I can tell you my experience with my kitty, Lily, but as you know, heart murmurs can be caused by different things, and have a wide range of seriousness.

Lily was surrendered to the SPCA when she was two, by a couple who were getting divorced. She was unspayed, so they did the surgery there. After we adopted her, we found out she had a heart murmur, grade three. We have a pretty peaceful household, and the vet saw her again in six months and said her murmur sounded better. At her annual check-up last month, our vet downgraded her murmur to a one! She said the hole is healing, and there was no need for further tests. I asked our vet if it was because of happiness, and she said, "No doubt." So, Lily survived the surgery and everything is getting better - we are extremely fortunate!

In your case, I would talk again to the vet you have the most faith in. Unless you have $500 laying around, I would ask if it's best to wait six months and listen to the murmur again, if it's worse or the same, then I'd pursue the tests. As far as the lump - that's a tough call. Again, I'd pose all your questions to the vet, and with him/her weigh the risks. Maybe a few months' waiting time for the lump surgery (to check the murmur again first) would be another option.

These are just my opinions, I'm not a doctor. I wish you and your kitty well, and I hope the murmur is a minor one. I'm sure you will get more advice here soon, please keep us updated!

Cheers, from
SwampWitch
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
He is 5 years old. The vet said we should do it to find out IF the heart murmur is anything to be concerned about. Given the odds she gave us (50% it could be something) I'm not sure if we should go ahead with the ultraosound or see another vet.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by meanessey View Post

Sorry for the long post, but what would you do? Anybody have a cat with a heart murmur?
edited to add: I'm slow...I see now that he's 5 years old.

It really depends on how old the cat is, and how severe the murmur is. Did the vet give any indication of a "grade" that the murmur is. They're graded 1-6 usually, 1 being the least and 6 being the most severe. I've had kittens with minor murmurs that went away when they got older, by 6 months or so. I have one now with a more significant murmur (grade 4). The vet doesn't expect her to 'outgrow' it. She's 8 months old now. We're going to have the tests done.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
no she didn't give an indication of what grade murmur it was, and until doing research I didn't even know there were grades of murmurs....another thing which makes me question this new vet. Why wouldn't she tell us what grade???
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by meanessey View Post
no she didn't give an indication of what grade murmur it was, and until doing research I didn't even know there were grades of murmurs....another thing which makes me question this new vet. Why wouldn't she tell us what grade???
She really should have. As you know, there's a huge difference between 1 and 6. Maybe time for a second opinion, especially since you didn't get real good vibes from her anyway.
post #8 of 14
Sounds like it wouldnt hurt to get a second opinion from your regular vet.
post #9 of 14
I'd definitely seek a second opinion to determine what grade of heart murmur your cat has. If it's more than 1-2, and because heart murmurs in cats more than a few years old can be indicative of heart disease, I'd get the testing done. My vet detected a grade 2 murmur in my male cat, Peter, when he was 9-months-old. We monitored him for 6 months and after hearing the murmur on two more occasions and an xray showed that Pete's heart was slightly enlarged, my vet really pushed going ahead with the ultrasound. I'm grateful she did because Pete was diagnosed with mild hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a gradual thickening of the heart muscle. Because Pete's young (2 1/2) and we caught it early, his prognisis is good. He's on daily meds now to keep his blood pressure low and prevent blood clots and is doing great.

Many cats live long, healthy lives with low grade murmurs and need nothing more than yearly monitoring, but an ultrasound really is the best way to determine the cause of the murmur and give you a better idea of your cat's prognosis and longterm care. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions and concerns. Sending lots of vibes for you and your cat.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by meanessey View Post
no she didn't give an indication of what grade murmur it was, and until doing research I didn't even know there were grades of murmurs....another thing which makes me question this new vet. Why wouldn't she tell us what grade???
Our vet didn't tell us the grade initially, either. Evidently, you can't always accurately tell the grade by listening alone; it's just an estimate.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you everybody for all your responses. We're definitely concerned for our poor little guy & I think we're going to go with a second opinion, even if its just to get more information than the first vet gave us. Hopefully all will go well, but if an ultrasound is necessary for him, we'll do it!
post #12 of 14
My RB cat had a grade 3 heart murmur (he died of unrelated health issues). We kept tabs of his mumur every time he went in and at home (we had three vets verify the murmur). The vet should have given you some indication. A second opinion by your other vet would be a good idea. If and ultrasound is recommended by your vet, it wouldn't hurt to see where your kitty stands with it. Good luck and please let us know how it goes.
post #13 of 14
I'd also check out the price- my dog had to go to the cardiologist for an echocardiogram (ultrasound apparently ) and it was around $265, from a reputable cardiologist (and we liked her! )
post #14 of 14
Even if it is a heart murmur, don't worry too much about it. Our old guy, Wuzzy, who was indoor/outdoor, had a Level IV heart murmur and lived to age 15. And he passed due to cancer in his throat, not the murmur.
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