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Cardiomyopathy questions

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
When I took Mufasa in to the vet for surgery a few months ago, the vet said that he had found a heart murmer and that it wasn't really bad, but that he believed it to be the start of cardiomyopathy and that he would eventually need to go on heart medication. He wants me to go in every 6 months to have it accessed to that he can stay on top of it.
Its only been a few months since he's been in, but he's been acting a little weird the last week and I'm not sure whether its from his heart, or whether its him immune system(the vet said he also has a poor immune system and is on steroid shots) I've been taking him for a walk ever night, but after about 15 minutes of slow walking, he collapses and I have to carry him home. That short of a walk just completely drains him. Should I be taking him for walks or not??? He's also been having spells where he won't each for the day and vomits everywhere, but then the next day he's fine. And then some days, he doesn't want to do anything but sleep. Does this sound like his heart might be getting worse??
I have never had a cat with heart disease before and I'm just wondering if anyone here has any information for me about lifespans and what I should and shouldn't be doing with him.
Oh, and he's about 5 years old and what we believe to be a Maine Coon.
post #2 of 25
I would take him back to the Vet and see what is wrong.
post #3 of 25
Maine Coons are prone to HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I would suggest you have an echocardiogram performed on him by a cat cardiologist asap. That is the only reliable way to determine what your cat's heart condition is.
There are drug therapies available to prolong lifespan for HCM positive cats.
post #4 of 25
I certainly second Kai Bengals statements. MCs are one of about 4 breeds who are very susceptable to HCM. It is genetic. If you got him from a breeder...please let them know the results of the heart tests.

And...he's a male...and he's 5 yrs old...that seems to be a bad time for a bad heart for males.

Don't want to scare you..but run, don't walk, to that cat cardiologist. Don't walk your kitty either..if it tires him out that much, then it's not much fun for him.

Keep us posted...and here's some healing vibes for Mufasa
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
thank you so much for the replies. I'll have to see if i can get an ECG done on his heart. The only problem is that I don't know of any cardiologists in the area. I'm sure the vet would probably know though.
Once they are diagnosed with HCM, what is the prognosis??
post #6 of 25
My Cat had the Echo a few years ago at my Vet. Maybe there is a Vet in your area that can do it. It isnt that cheap but it will tell you alot. They shave the cat and put this gel like stuff on the cat.
post #7 of 25
It's not absolutely necessary to have a cardiologist do the testing. I was able to find a feline internist (through my vet) who specializes in feline cardiology to do my boy Peter's ultrasound. Pete was diagnosed with mild HCM two years ago, after our vet detected a grade 2 heart murmur on two occasions and xrays showed his heart is slightly enlarged. Since then he's been on a low dosage of atenolol daily to regulate his blood pressure and prevent blood clots, along with taking 1/2 baby aspirin twice a week to keep his blood thin. For now, he's going back for annual ultrasounds. The meds seem to being doing the trick because his last ultrasound in Nov. showed no further progression of the disease and his heart is functioning normally. At his last regular vet visit in June, our vet could barely detect the murmur. Peter hasn't shown any other symptons related to the HCM, and is an otherwise, healthy, very active cat. He turned four in July.

It's my understanding that the treatment and prognosis for cats with HCM varies greatly depending on their age and severity of the disease when diagnosed.
post #8 of 25
My cat has moderate HCM and the story is very similar. He didn't have any symptoms, but the vet found a murmur and we went to a cardiologist. He now takes atenolol daily and responded so well to it that his heart appears almost normal. It's an easy drug to give, since it's tiny and has little odor or flavor; my cat takes it squashed in a treat.

But, yes, there is a wide variation in the progression and severity of HCM. Though the impression I got from the cardiologist was that even some cats who have progressed to heart failure from HCM can have many good years with treatment.

Given the problems your cat has been having, I'd get to a cardiologist right away. And I think it's best not to take walks or encourage him to physical exertion until he's been checked out.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'll try to keep his excersise limited then. I know that he enjoys going for his walks, but I don't want to do any further damage. Hopefully I'll be able to find someone in my area who will do one.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicangel69 View Post
I'll try to keep his excersise limited then. I know that he enjoys going for his walks, but I don't want to do any further damage. Hopefully I'll be able to find someone in my area who will do one.
If it were me, I'd do more than limit his exercise - I'd stop the walking part. I'd bring him outside, put him down and allow him to "nosey" about. Let him direct the action. That way, he gets to enjoy the outdoors - at HIS own pace.
post #11 of 25
I have a friend whose vet told her her cat had Cardiomyopathy and was going to die in 6 months. They put him on expensive meds. She bought a new cat and was preparing for his death. I encouraged her to take her heart cat to the University Vet clinic here for a second opinion because I had heard bad things about the vet she uses. The cardio expert at the university said there was nothing wrong with his heart.

I feel if any pet has something other then a routine problem a second opinion is in order. Just like we would do for ourselves.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catessa View Post
I have a friend whose vet told her her cat had Cardiomyopathy and was going to die in 6 months. They put him on expensive meds. She bought a new cat and was preparing for his death. I encouraged her to take her heart cat to the University Vet clinic here for a second opinion because I had heard bad things about the vet she uses. The cardio expert at the university said there was nothing wrong with his heart.

I feel if any pet has something other then a routine problem a second opinion is in order. Just like we would do for ourselves.
You make a good point. I think the key element is that most vets are not qualified to diagnose cardiomyopathy. Most vets don't even have the ultrasound machine nor the skills to use one. Good vets will readily admit this and refer the patients they suspect of heart problems to a qualified facility with access to a board certified cardiologist to interpret the results.

A qualified sonagrapher can preform the echocardiogram, but the diagnosis needs to be made by a cardiologist if you want accurate and meaningful results.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Bengals View Post
...most vets are not qualified to diagnose cardiomyopathy...Good vets will readily admit this and refer the patients...to a board certified cardiologist to interpret the results...
Right on, Kai Bengals!

Some insights (from a Vet, no less) on why this soooooooo rarely happens were recently revealed on her website...check out "four reasons we sometimes refuse to refer"

Huh...is this a Vet talking?
"In lieu of being handed these choices on a platter, you need to learn to speak your mind, ask questions, and seek out the kind of care you want for your pet." (used with the explicit permission of the author)
post #14 of 25
BLAISE:

That link you posted was very interesting and spot-on. I'm fortunate that my vet knows his limitations, values our input and breeder experience, loves to research new findings and isn't one bit afraid to recommend a specialist when it's time for that. Knowing his limits and being honest about it has done nothing but increase my respect for him.
post #15 of 25
In Dec 2005 Coco got very sick with a Uri and her Asthma. The idiot Vet me her Asthma was Lung Cancer and her heart was tilted and bad. I got a 2nd opinion at the vet I use now and there was nothing wrong with her hear. He did a Echo. We had just moved here 6 months before from the Bay Area and I made a terrible mistake because no one could see Coco until the next day and she was very sick. I saw the bad vet not knowing it was bad and said call it and see if they can see her. They have been shut down and that was the only time she went there. When my Cats have problems our Vet can not help with we go to UC Davis. With Yoshi we were told to go and see if they could do a Kidney Transplant but he didnt qualify. Can you get a 2nd opinion?
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, I took Mufasa to another vet since the one that I usually take him too was full and this guy was so good. I'm actually going to start bringing my baby there now. I told him what was going on, and he spend almost an hour with me talking about all of the different approches, prognosis, and possibilities. He checked his heart and said that he had a grade 2 heart murmer. He said that its not really bad, but that that does not mean that he doesn't have cardiomyopathy or any other kind of heart disease. He also suggested that it might be what he called giantism?? He said that since Mufasa is such a big cat, his heart might only be the size to accomodate a regular sized cat which would cause the collapsing since his heart isn't able to keep up with the oxygen demands of his muscles.
He also said that it might not be his heart at all, but that it could be anemia causing the collapsing because of a lack of red blood cells. He said the amemia could be caused my FeLV or FIP (which I think he might have) or something metabolic.
He suggested that I get an X-ray and CBC done first to find out if there is anything abnormal with his heart, kidney's and liver and a CBC to find out if he's anemic. He also suggested that I get the FeLV and FIP test done right away, which I was planning on. Then, if the heart or anything looks enlarged on the X-ray, he suggested an ultrasound to check the thickness of the ventricles or any other abnormalities and a metabolic blood test if the CBC comes back clean because he said that he might have a problem digesting protein.
All in all it'll cost me about $700 if I need to do all the tests. I'm thinking about applying for the vet card to pay for it all.
Oh, and they also did a fecal because of his constant diarrhea. It came back negative for everything so he's on Fiber Formula to try to harden up his stool and he's on Metron just in case he has access bacteria in his GI tract. The vet said that he might also have a metabolic condition where is digestive system cannot absorb something and that's why he's having the diarrhea.
Do you think this guy knows what he's talking about of is he just trying to get me to waste my money?? He seems good, but I would appreciate your guys oppinion.
post #17 of 25
Just so you know, there is no test for FIP. FIP can only be determined by necropsy after death.
Your cat can be tested for exposure to the corona virus. Nearly all cats test positive for this, it is not an indicator of FIP.
The corona virus has to mutate in order to cause FIP. Just because your cat tests positive for exposure, does not mean it has FIP or will ever develope it.

So far no one knows what causes the virus to mutate and why some cats get it and most do not.

Just FYI

Seems like this new Vet wants to cover all the bases and I think he's given you good starting points. I would take it one step at a time and not do all the testing at once. Ask him to start with the most logical thing in his opinion.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info. Maybe he didn't say FIP, he said it was a combo test for FeLV and something else similar. I though he said FIP, but I could be wrong.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicangel69 View Post
Thanks for the info. Maybe he didn't say FIP, he said it was a combo test for FeLV and something else similar. I though he said FIP, but I could be wrong.
Ah, maybe he said FIV?
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
I think that was it. Something about an autoimmune disease or something???
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Ah, maybe he said FIV?
Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicangel69 View Post
I think that was it. Something about an autoimmune disease or something???
I would say, then, that he probably said FIV because, as Kai Bengals said, there is no test for FIP.

Still, with FIV, a test (and, such exists) at best, will only reveal if Mufasa has been exposed to the FIV virus...it cannot confirm if he has FIV. It is only an antibody test (to see if his immune system has been exposed and "recognizes" FIV). That recognition might come fom "simple" exposure to the virus, or from the cat having been vaccinated against FIV. Now, the FeLV test looks for antigens which are "pieces" of the actual virus - which would actually confirm the presence of FeLV in his system. These two tests are combined into one, called the SNAP test. It's relatively inexpensive - and, really should be done on our cats.

Now should a cat test positive with the SNAP test, a second and different follow-up test is required to confirm/deny that the cat is actually infected with FIV (this is the "Western blot" test).

(If you want to find out about FIV, this article is, IMO, quite descriptive. You couls also have a read here.

You're wondering about the Vet....just from what you've described, I'm impressed. I'm impressed because he spent the time with you that you needed to understand all of this. I'm impressed because you've come away from there being able to explain all of that to us - which, to me, says that he has done that part of his job exceptionally well. And, I'm impressed with his methological approach to diagnosis. Yes, I believe he knows what he's talking about. If it were me, I'd keep him!

If it were me (I). I'd opt for the Xray and the FeLV/FIV Snap test to begin with. (I am simply a strong believer that all of our cats should receive that, for a myriad of reasons - in your case it may temporarily relieve the need for the CBC panel.) The CBC - Complete Blood Count - could probably wait for now. (I've had a CBC done on all my cats while they're young and healthy, just so that I/we have a "baseline" on which to judge any possible future changes.) If you want to understand more about bloodwork, this link to WSU College of Veternary Medecine is a superb summary of the CBC testing/meaning.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLAISE View Post
If you want to understand more about bloodwork, this link to WSU College of Veternary Medecine is a superb summary of the CBC testing/meaning.
I'd have more faith in a site if they were able to spell "Veterinary Medicine". I didn't even bother to click on the link because I wouldn't take advice from a supposed professional if they cannot even spell the name of their profession.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
I'd have more faith in a site if they were able to spell "Veterinary Medicine". I didn't even bother to click on the link because I wouldn't take advice from a supposed professional if they cannot even spell the name of their profession.
Oh, Yosmite! You've mistaken my typo for a mistake on Washington State University's official web site!

Hardly a reason to avoid the site...unless, of course, it's internet-phoebia at work
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLAISE View Post
Oh, Yosmite! You've mistaken my typo for a mistake on Washington State University's official web site!

Hardly a reason to avoid the site...unless, of course, it's internet-phoebia at work
Then I must apologize - I didn't realize it was just a typo on your part. As I said, if I came across something like that and saw that sort of spelling error I would avoid the site not so much as a phobia but more of a waste of my time, i.e., the time for my slow computer to open the link, and my time reading something that I was suspicious of from the spelling error in the first place.
post #25 of 25
As they all said there is no fip test that you can trust. They belive my Yoshi had fip but it was never proven because they can get false pos. I could have found out for sure after he died but didnt. There is a fiv test though. There is another thing that can cause anemia also. When my Stripe had Crf she was always anemia and needed procrit shots. I would do what this vet says.
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