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DCM AND HCM - Heart Muscle Disease

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Has anyone had any experience with this happening to their cat? The diseases are Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy.

My sweet, loving Max passed away and the best the Vet could come up with was a heart problem. So I researched and these two heart muscle diseases are the most common. He didn't fit the profile for either disease except for a lower interest in eating. He was still eating...up to a few days before he died, but not much. He was male, and sort of middle-aged...two more aspects of the profile.

He was still his playful, active, loving self until about 24 hours before he died....and he was still licking water off his paw even when he was too weak to lift his head.

I am just heartbroken...and of course would like to compare symptoms with anyone else who might have had this happen to their beloved cat.

An autopsy is the only true way to find the cause of his death, but it's too late for that now. He had just turned 5 years old.

Just thought I'd ask here. Thanks for any help.
post #2 of 12
I'm sorry about your cat.

It doesn't sound like HCM to me. And had his death resulted from a chronic heart condition, you would have seen symptoms like lethargy, wheezing, etc. So I wouldn't pin your thinking on that. Maybe the vet meant that he might have died of a heart attack or stroke, or his heart just stopped? Or it could have been some other cause.
post #3 of 12
My cat has been living with HCM since she was a year and a half. They just recently put her on beta-blockers this year so her heart won't have to work so hard. She is still relatively active and playful at 6, no wheezing or anything. Every echocardiogram is extremely scary, you just pray that it hasn't gotten any worse. But other than that she acts like a normal cat.

If anyone has more info on HCM, I would also appreciate it. My experience so far has been very asymptomatic. (Thankfully....and may it so remain for many years.)

I am ***so*** sorry about your beloved cat. *Hugs* Knowing that my cat has it is like a dark cloud, you know? I know the worst is going to happen eventually and dread it. You are in my thoughts!!!!
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you, both, for your responses and kind words. Max didn't die of a heart attack or stroke...because he weakened and died over about 24 hours...I'm sure a stroke would have incapacitated him....and a heart attack would have caused sudden death.

DCM is Dilated CM where the heart muscle stretches...and one time when I scooped Max up at his chest between his front legs...and wow....I could feel his heart beating into my hand. I listened to his heart and it was really beating fast.....but that was the only time it happened. Any other time, it was normal....couldn't feel it beating.

I looked up a cat's heartbeat..and up to 220 was 'normal'. So I just figured..okay...that's fine. He looked and acted fine, as well.

KittyCurledUp.....can I ask....how did you discover that your kitty had HCM?
My cats went to their annual check-up every year without fail...and the Vet never indicated a heart problem.

The only possible symptom was that he went 'off' his usual feeding habits. He still did eat...but not at the usual times. He may not have been eating as much...it's hard to tell with two cats, even though they have two separate bowls...one could eat out of the other...and I never stood and watched them eat. Other than that.....my husband, son, cat sitter, and a friend who dropped over.....all said that Max was the same Max that they had always known.....nosy, loving, interested, bubbly.....

Nothing will bring him back....but I feel so terribly guilty and devastated over this....I know that other cats suddenly sicken and die and no cause is found...that gives me comfort, not that they died, but that we may never know what killed Max.....he was a perfect cat in every way and I miss him terribly.

The Vet didn't have any answers...or suggestions other than maybe his heart.....so I thought by listening to stories of others...I might gain some understanding about 'sudden and unexplained' death....in an otherwise healthy looking kitty.

To make matters worse, I wasn't home when he died. I had left on a long-planned trip for 3 weeks....thinking that Max had simply snubbed his food for some reason and would be back to his usual self in a few days. Oh, how I wish I could turn back the clock
post #5 of 12
Of course you may ask. The doctor heard a heart murmur during a routine exam. They performed an echo because of that, and then discovered the HCM. I am not sure whether murmurs are usually associated with HCM or if the condition would have gone undiagnosed if not for the murmur.

They ask a round of questions associated with the HCM at every visit -- has she been panting, lethargic, intolerant to exercise, etc. My answers are always no, she is not expressing any obvious symptoms.

Again, I am very sorry for what you've been going through!! Please don't blame yourself, you couldn't have known. Words can't adequately express my sympathy.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you, KittyCurledUp.....Max never displayed any of those symptoms either and was fine at his last visit.

I'm so happy to hear that your kitty is doing fine....I truly hope that she stays fine and active and symptom-free for many years to come.
I'm so happy that the condition was caught early and that she can take medication to live a long and happy life.

From my reading...catching the condition early is key to treatment and a longer life. Enjoy her every day and give her lots of hugs....
post #7 of 12
Actuarally DCM is quite rare today since it's a heart diseases primary caused by taurine deficiency so unless your cat ate homemade food deficient in taurine it's highly unlikely it died due to DCM. HCM and RCM (restrictive cardiomyopathy) are more common and HCM can cause sudden death.

However it's hard to say what killed your cat. I know a breeder who's Cornish Rex suddenly died at a cat show. The owner sent a friend to fetch the show vet when she saw the cat was getting ill but by the time the vet came (and it was fast) the cat was dead. The autopsy didn't reveal the cause of death. It only said acute cirkulatory failure. They couldn't find the cause of it though. The heart was fine.

So many things can happen.
post #8 of 12
Thank you Sol. I had read about taurine deficiency causing DCM....but what I don't know is what is the proper amount. The Hill's T/D food has 0.1% and I was also giving them Iams Digestive...which as 0.15% ...which seems like a fair amount.

If it was sudden..it would be puzzling...but he started eating less about 4 weeks before he died....but he still ate....and was as normal as ever....until about 24 hours before he died.

It is a puzzle. I certainly appreciate hearing everyone's experiences. My Vet couldn't say too much about it which was disappointing.

Thank you
post #9 of 12
It could have been cancer... I've seen the loss of appetite in a few cats that died from that.

But sometimes animals just die of natural causes, even at 5.
post #10 of 12
Thank you Emmylou...I had a cat just before Max......Wayne...a big (over 20lb) Maine Coone-like big boy who did die of cancer at 8 1/2 yrs of age...so I got to know the effects of cancer.......I brought Max home 3 months after Wayne died......who would have thought that I'd have to go through this again so soon......

You may be so right....some cats do die of natural causes at even such a tender age of 5 yrs. We can't predict the future.....so we just hope for a long and happy life for our beloved pets. Max brought me tons of happiness and joy in his short life and for that, I am so grateful.....he knows that he'll be loved forever....

I can't forget that I have Phoebe, too. She's 12 yrs. so she's kind of quiet and sleeps alot...but she's getting lots of hugs these days.....she's a sweetie too!

Thank you for your encouraging words.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MAXCAT08 View Post
Thank you Sol. I had read about taurine deficiency causing DCM....but what I don't know is what is the proper amount. The Hill's T/D food has 0.1% and I was also giving them Iams Digestive...which as 0.15% ...which seems like a fair amount.

If it was sudden..it would be puzzling...but he started eating less about 4 weeks before he died....but he still ate....and was as normal as ever....until about 24 hours before he died.

It is a puzzle. I certainly appreciate hearing everyone's experiences. My Vet couldn't say too much about it which was disappointing.

Thank you
If he ate a commercial "complete" diet taurine deficiency is highly unlikely. 0,1% would be a perfectly fine taurine level for a dryfood.

There are many things that may have caused illness in your cat. Even though not typical it could be FIP. I know of a cat who got ill and the vet was quite sure it was HCM. The cat died and was sent for an autopsy, she had FIP. The strange thing being that it had attacked the heart and not much else in the body. Apparently very rare.

Losing interest in eating is a common sign of illness regarding a lot of illnesses. If he was sick enough in HCM in order to start showing less interest in food I'd guess he would be quite bad off and he would probably not have been in shape for playing a lot.
post #12 of 12
That is the irony of it all, Sol. He was his usual, perky, playful, cuddly, loving self right up to the end. No wheezing, or laboured breathing, still jumping up on the bed and couch and chairs, still going up and down the stairs at his usual breakneck speed LOL......he just didn't have the same interest in eating, although he still did eat some.

He was a strictly indoor cat...don't know how he'd develop FIP....and Phoebe seems fine, although much quieter since Max left.

Yes, it's hard to diagnose what it might have been. No use playing the guessing game and driving myself crazy and despondent at the same time. I sure miss him..he's left a Grand Canyon-sized hole in my heart. I couldn't have loved a cat more and he couldn't have loved us more....how much better could it have been The fact that he was only 5yrs is a real heartbreaker. My Portia lived till 18 yrs and I missed her and cried when she had to be pts......but I had the good feeling in my heart that she led a long and happy life...Phoebe is 12 yrs...so I'm hoping she lives a good while longer too.

I sure do appreciate your support and others who have responded. It has made me feel better...though the tears are always ready to drop...but that will decrease over time.

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