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Wheeeeeeezing kitty with a Fat Heart?!?!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello, I just got back from the vet...and it was my first time with a new vet. I'm not sure what the diagnosis was... I'm a lil confused and was wondering if anyone read through it and let me know if it makes sense?

My cat that I adopted in Jan (he's 6 years old and a rescue) started wheezing last week. It sounds like he can't catch his breath - like he is inhaling repeatedly and rapidly. But it's not constant. Just a few times a day. Not an emergency, but it was worrying me. I have two long haired cats (this one included), so I am very familiar with the sound of a hairball or a nagging potential hairball. This doesn't sound like it. So, I made an appt to see my vet, but had to see another one, since she is out of the office.

When I went home to get him he didn't run to the door, but was lying in his comfy spot and was wheezing - so, he seemed much worse.
Once there, he didn't wheeze at all (which meant, I got to try to imitate him and of course failed miserably).
hehe... go fig.
She said that it might be a massive hairball. Or a respiratory infection. Or asthma. Or allergies. Or a heartworm. Or heart disease.
So then she asked if she could do xrays and I said - go for it! (anything to narrow it down! - especially away from those scary things!).
The xrays showed that his lungs were healthy and clear - with just a few spots that could indicate low levels of infection. She said that this made asthma less likely. but it still could be allergies or a respiratory infection (ahem, that's a cold, right?)
According to the xray, his heart is literally "fat". She said that it could be enlarged from heart disease or a worm, but that she can't tell that from the xray and it could just be that he has a lot of fat right around his heart - a fat heart.
He didn't have a heart murmur.
So, she told me to take him home and give him laxatone for the potential massive hairball everyday... and an antihistamine in case it's a respiratory thing. I should not use air freshner in the house and use a dust-less litter (like crystals or a mix with crystals) if I can.
If it's not better in a week, he needs an ultrasound and hearworm testing.

But my question is - what causes a fat heart? Is it ok to let it go for the time being? What do they do to treat something like that?
Has anyone else ever had any problems like this?

I know, I know... there probably isn't much anyone can tell me. I just was wondering if anyone had heard of this before and if there is anything I can do.

post #2 of 13
Hmm sorry to reply with no real info...just thought I'd share. I haven't heard of "fat" heart. My Precious was born with multiple congenital heart defects, and her heart is enlarged...and she coughs when she exerts herself, and first thing when she wakes up. BUT she also has a very significant murmur to go along with it. Without a murmur, I don't know. That might be unusual, or it may just be something I haven't heard of.

If it comes to it next week, I would recommend the cardiac workup. That's the best way to get a more definitive diagnosis.

Do you have a way to film one of his wheezing fits? That might help the vet too....since of course being a cat, they always act like they're fine when they're actually being examined.

I hope he feels better soon, and you can get some answers about his diagnosis.
post #3 of 13
If the vet was telling you that the heart itself looked enlarged on the X-ray, then, yes, ultrasound and EKG are the next step. These will help them diagnose whether it is heart disease, and what type. The wheezing symptoms could point to a heart problem. Or the cause could be something respiratory, so it's good to look at possible causes there as well.

The "fat around the heart diagnosis" is strange. Did your vet say that the cat's heart itself seemed to be a normal size on the X-ray? You could call back and ask.
post #4 of 13

If this were my cat I would want to know if it had heartworms and get them treated.
For more on feline heartworm www.heartwormsociety.org/felineheartworminf

=^..^= shoo worms ~ ~ ~
post #5 of 13
Perhaps you mean fatty liver? http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/liver2.html

Here's some information on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the most common heart disease in cats: http://www.cpvh.com/Articles/75.html
post #6 of 13
I've just found this on www.lbah.com :

There are conditions that can fool you into thinking the heart is enlarged. This is a picture of a cat with excess fat around its normal heart (look at the bottom of the heart where it touches the sternum), making it look like the heart is enlarged.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Tania - that is exactly what the vet meant - it could be that the heart just had excess fat on it. The heart did reach the sternum. She said that the only way to tell if it was "fat" or enlarged would be to do an ultrasound.

I am going to try to film Mr. B wheezing/coughing - that is a very good idea. His wheezing definitely turned to a cough last night. He was coughing a lot during the night and this morning... poor guy
She gave him an antihistamine for me to give him 2x's a day. I could not get him to take it this morning for the life of me- I even put it in TUNA. I also put it down the back of his throat and waited for him to swallow, but he gagged most of it out.
I'm going to try again when I get home.

I am really hoping that he is ok. I've never heard a cat have coughing fits before... and it really doesn't sound like a hairball gag-- it's a COUGH.
post #8 of 13
Mollygirl - Have you tried pill pockets? My cats are very receptive to those. They are specially designed for hiding pills. They eat the treats...pill and all! They're available at most pet stores, especially the big chains.

post #9 of 13
This x-ray is of a true enlarged heart (as opposed to a normal-sized heart surrounded by fat) you can see it's different compared to the other x-ray pic I posted. Again from www.lbah.com:

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys!

I have never tried pill pockets, Beandip - I will give it a try!
That sounds great.

As far as the slides go... I don't really know that I can tell which one Mr. B's xray looked more like...

Do y'all think I should get a second opinion???
post #11 of 13
A second opinion is definitely a good idea. In fact, I would see if you could have a veterinary cardiologist look at it, as they may be the best qualified to read the x-ray.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well! The antihistamine seems to be working!

I haven't heard him wheeze in a day and a half! I am sooooooooo relieved.

I guess it was just a really bad cold...
post #13 of 13
That's great news!!
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