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Heart Murmers

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. I have a question about heart murmers.
I found a kitten 9 days ago, I've named him Akita. He was thin and his breathing was very labored, I took him to the vet that day. He was estimated to be about 3 weeks old and I was given medication to treat his wheezing. He then went downhill the following day...his breathing was even worse, all he wanted to do was sleep, he was dehydrated, chilled (despite being on a heating pad) and wouldn't eat for me. He spent the following night at vet's, I thought for sure the little guy wouldn't make it through the night but by the next day, they had him eating and doing well and I was able to bring him back home.
Akita has been doing well since. His appetite is great, he's even grown a bit. He's playing and a complete brat! However, his breathing never improved. It wasn't constant, it was bad after he'd been playing. After playing, he'd lay stretched out on his side and start rapidly breathing, then it would slow down to deep breathing.
Two days ago, he'd been on the medication for a week with no change, so I decided to take him back to the vet's about the breathing. I was then told that his breathing has nothing to do with respiratory problems or his lungs...he's got a heart murmer and the breathing is related to that, which would also explain his behavior after playing. The vet didn't seem too worried about the heart murmer. He said that we could do a heart ultrasound when Akita is a little bit older but maybe by that time, he'd outgrow it.
I realize heart murmers in kittens isn't all that uncommon. I have a cat who'd had a heart murmer...I was told she wouldn't make it to a year old, she's now 5 years old. But she'd never showed any outward signs that she had a heart murmer.
I also had another cat who, at his last checkup when he was 10 years old, I was told he had a slight murmer but nothing ever came of it...the vet (different vet than the one who saw Akita) didn't make it seem that bad. This cat died a year later of cardiomyopathy.
I don't know much at all about heart murmers, I've been trying to find things in books or online to read but haven't come across alot of information.
I am very worried about Akita. I think his breathing has been worse the last few days. It's more constant now, but getting worse after playing. It just doesn't make sense to me to let him go on for a few more months breathing like this, to see if he out grows it...does that make sense to any of you? I can't see how he could go on living like this that long. Should I wait? Are there any things I can do for him?
Akita is my little baby. It was bad enough when I thought I'd lose him the first few days I had him, I sure don't want to lose him now or in a few months...especially not if there were things I could've been doing for him.
I would greatly appreciate any advice.
post #2 of 24
Although I don't know about heart murmors, it also sounds like you are also discribing a kitten who is overplaying...

I thouhg I'd mention this because of your kittens age. He is still so young, and kittens usually need to be with their moms until 8-12 weeks old.

it is very common for kittens to play until the point that they pant, where is it upon the owner to let the kitten know it's time to sleep, and stop playing, just snuggle and pet...

so maybe you could stop the play before he starts to breath funny,
then when he is older he will have more strength, and will better handle longer play sessions.

Kitten are kinda like babies at this point, you need to make sure they eat and sleep enough too!

just a suggestion ofcourse, as again I don't know about cat heart murmurs, just that some live long lives with them.

good luck and keep me posted on the little guy, I am thinking good thoughts and hope it doesn't come to making "that" decision!
post #3 of 24
Oh, i am so sorry Akita has a heart problem.

i found the following article, and would like to share it with you:

What signs does a cat with poor heart function show?

Clinical signs are the consequence of the inability to pump blood efficiently around the body so the cat may have poor, weak pulses and pale mucous membranes. The sluggishness of circulation can be assessed by using a fingertip to squeeze blood out of the gum capillaries (fine blood vessels) and observing the length of time it takes to return to a normal colour.

A failing heart creates a logjam effect in the blood vessels which return blood to the heart. The congestion starts to have a detrimental action on other organs in the body. The liver can become enlarged and fluid builds up in the lungs causing an increase in the breathing rate and a possible cough. Stethoscopic examination enables us to hear if there are any abnormalities of the heart sounds.

The cat heart makes a noise similar to the classic "lub-lub" of humans, a phenomenon which is generated by the heart valves opening and closing and by blood flow within the large vessels around the heart. If the valves are leaky, or if there is an abnormal turbulence in blood flow, we can detect the "swooshing"sound of a heart murmur. Severe murmurs can actually be felt by placing fingertips against the ribcage overlying the heart.

Are there any other tests that can show how the heart is working?

X-rays will show if the heart has been enlarged but the plain shadow doesn't reveal any information about the more important internal structure. "Dyes" can be injected into the blood stream, outlining the chambers and the heart walls.

An even more accurate picture of the internal structure of the heart can be achieved with an ultrasound machine. The rate and the beat of the heart is controlled by complex electrical signals which are transmitted through a number of pathways, co-ordinating the heart muscle contraction, rate and rhythm.

The ECG (electrocardiogram) measures the voltage through the heart muscle and reveals if we have abnormalities of the electrical conduction pathways. We can determine if there are aberrant electrical impulses in the heart or if conduction is being blocked and, by taking readings from different points on the body, we can build up a three dimensional image of the heart.

What causes heart problems in cats?

Feline heart problems are typically classified into two main groups - congenital and acquired diseases. Congenital conditions arise when there has been a failure of development within the womb and a kitten is born with a defect such as a hole in the heart or a deformed valve.

In mild cases, this may cause nothing more than a slight murmur in an otherwise normal cat, but severe congenital abnormalities result in a stunted, breathless kitten with a limited life expectancy. Cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle) are the most common causes of acquired feline heart disease.

The heart muscle can become stretched and flabby and too weak to contract efficiently (dilated cardiomyopathy) or it may become so thickened and bulky that it prevents the chambers filling properly (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Cardiomyopathies may be secondary to disease elsewhere in the body.

Heart muscle thickening can be caused by an overactive thyroid gland, while a diet lacking the amino acid taurine (classically by feeding dog food or a vegetarian diet) can cause heart muscle weakening. In some cases we just don't know why a heart muscle disease develops.

What treatment is there if my cat has a heart problem?

Treatment of heart disease will obviously depend on the underlying cause. If the heart problem is secondary, as in say, an overactive thyroid gland, the heart will improve when the primary problem is rectified. Congenital heart defects can be altered with surgery which aims to bring the anatomy back into line with normal.

Some surgical cases may be relatively straightforward, particularly in the hands of an experienced cardiac surgeon, but others may only be corrected with extensive and risky surgery. Understandably few owners tend to consider this option if their cat has a severe congenital defect and they opt to live with the problem as long as possible.

Failing hearts can be treated with medication which can quite dramatically improve the quality of life. Diuretics or water tablets help reduce the load on the heart allowing it to recover some function. Congestion is decreased and fluid clears from the lungs leading to easier breathing and better exercise tolerance.

Other drugs can improve the strength of the muscle contraction and increase the outflow. A more recent type of heart tablet relaxes the blood vessels, reducing the resistance to blood flow and allows a failing heart to pump more effectively.

How can I tell if my cat has a heart problem?

The diagnosis of heart disease can be quite a shock for owners because cats are notoriously good at hiding heart problems from us. Heart disease in pet dogs is easier to pick up in the early stages because they get out of puff on a walk, but cat owners don't get the same opportunity to see their pets exercising.

All that the owner may be aware of is a cat which is sleeping a lot and is a bit lethargic. By the time a veterinary surgeon first sees a cat in the clinic it is often in an advanced stage of heart failure. Changes in behaviour and habits which persist for more than a few days should merit a trip to your veterinary practice.

Most lethargic cats have a much more innocent explanation for their demeanour but if it does turn out to be a heart problem, the earlier we can treat, the better the outlook. Serious heart problems are uncommon in cats and thanks to a dramatic increase in knowledge in recent years, your veterinary surgeon can do so much more to investigate, diagnose, cure and control.

By Aileen Brown, BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinary Surgeon, The Caledonian Cat Clinic

i pray for Akita's speedy recovery.
post #4 of 24
My Tage is soon to be 2 years old, he has a heart murmer, I haven't had any health problems with him except for a reoccuring uri since he was a young kit.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
I think I may have worded things wrong. I certainly am not considering putting him to sleep...atleast not any time soon. I just feel by the way he's been breathing, I would think he should need treatment now before things got more serious, but the vet doesn't seem to be considering treatment until he gets older. Like for instance, with my cat who passed on of cardiomyopathy...it was very sudden but I later found out that if we had caught it earlier and had him on medication, he might've lived longer. I just don't want to make the same mistake with Akita.
I did think Akita's breathing was from playing alot initially, but the last few days...he doesn't have to be playing to be breathing like this and he never was panting. He gets hyper but it's nothing compared to other kittens I've raised...I've had ones that were practically bouncing off the walls! Akita is still a little wobbly on his legs so, his activity is a bit more limited. But lately, even when he sleeps now, the breathing fluctuates from rapid to very deep breaths.
GurlPower, thank you so much for that article...that was more information than I've been able find anywhere else.
post #6 of 24
Oh, i just hope and wish for speedy recovery for Akita... by the way, is this a Japanese name?

i know how you must feel. i get very anxious over my babies... i love them so much. i will feel so devastated if something was to happen to either of them. So, i know how you feel.

Take care of you. Hugs and kisses for Akita!

post #7 of 24
God bless you for taking in this baby.
I have a kitty who is now almost 13 years old. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur (sp?) when she was about 1 1/2 years old. I had her in for a routine exam and the vet noticed a different sound to her heart.
She really only shows a symptom of it when she is sleeping. She snores very loudly and sounds strange.
She is getting older now and doesn't play as much as she once did but she still does manage to have her moments.
I do know that once when she had a cold her breathing became labored and the vet put her on a steroid medicine. Actually it was the same one my son uses when he has a flair up of asthma. It is called prednisone, I am not sure that is the correct spelling.
I hope your baby comes around. You can at least know that you are giving her love and she knows it.
post #8 of 24
Shirley: Dear, as Akita is a Japanese breed of dog, I can only but assume that the name Akita is also of orginial Japanese origin.
post #9 of 24
Kawaii desu ne? (means "cute, isn't it?" in Japanese)

post #10 of 24
hahaha, the only Japanese word I know is Backa (sp?) maybe it's Baka, which mean's idiot.
I got that from watching all the wonderful jap animes!

However my soon to be brother in law can talk circles around me in Japanese. He's American, but got into this japanese culter/teaching class when he was like in Kindergarden, and has been ever since! He just got back from Japan actually! *Jealous here*
post #11 of 24
Neat!! Cool!! :flash: :flash:

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
GurlPower...I named him Akita because he reminded me of an Akita puppy.
Well, he went back to the vet's again...3rd different vet in less than 2 weeks. Now this vet didn't think his heart sounded so bad! He heard bad wheezing but can't pinpoint why he's wheezing. He suggested a variety of things that could be wrong...hernia, congenital heart, lung, or liver problems, etc. Because of Akita's small size (13 oz.) he wants to wait before we start doing X-Rays or ultrasounds. He gave me some form of Lasix to give him and he's going to wait until we get Akita's weight up to atleast 1 1/2 pounds before we do the X-Rays. He said at Akita's weight right now, most treatments may be more harmful than good.
He said there is a possibility that Akita could pass on within that time but he felt that Akita is very alert and he thinks he'll a chance but right now, all of Akita's energy is going into breathing. So...I'm still worried out of my mind about my little boy but this vet gave me more hope and confidence.
post #13 of 24
:flash: Sounds to me your vet has a heart of gold!!!!

Oh, Akita is so tiny and frail.. my whole heart goes to him... keep us posted, okay?

Take care of yourself, and take great care of Akita, the little darling!

post #14 of 24
I am hoping Akita will stay strong! I can't imagine how worried you are, but stay positive so it will rub of on akita! sweet little kitty...all the best, and keep in touch..
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
I don't know what happened, he just went straight downhill last night. He won't eat anything, I can't even force him food because he's too weak to swallow it or spit it out. When he walks, he falls over. In just one night, he now looks like he lost all of his weight!
I called the vet and will be taking Akita to get put to sleep this afternoon. I knew there was something wrong with this poor boy when I first found him but he had a lot of fight in him. But today...it's all lost, I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle for him.
He gave me a wonderful 2 weeks, and I think he was very happy and knew he was spoiled at the moment but after all those vets and no improvement and no one to even pinpoint what might be wrong with Akita...I just feel like it's over now.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he may pass on before I take him to the vets, which is very possible. I feel like such a failure. I'm used to helping animals whom other people told me wouldn't make it, I'm not used to putting so much time and effort into them and having them die on me but I know I did every possible thing for him.
Thank you all for your support with Akita.
This was him about a week ago:
post #16 of 24
oh gee...I am so sorry for you and Akita...my heart goes out to you! Bless you for trying so hard to help this cute little kitty, I saw his pics, what a sweetie.....

you did so much for this little guy, and I am sure he loved every moment he had with you.
take care.
post #17 of 24
Akita looks very lovely and sweet.

Could you please contact your local shelter (SPCA, animal care and control, etc.) to seek for further advice or even surrendering Akita to them, INSTEAD of putting him to sleep? Could you?

They might have better expertise and facilities to cater to Akita. Not saying you don't, (disclaimer added here).. i think Akita should be given another chance.

Would you give Akita another chance?

Please keep us posted. Thanks!
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, as it turned out...I had decided that since I knew Akita was going to die anyway, I might as well let the vet do an XRay on him. He was death warmed over, but everytime I said his name, he lifted his head, so I thought there might be a little bit more fight in him. He was weighed again, went back down to 10 oz. but his temperature was normal so the vet was willing to try the XRay. He found that his heart was surrounded by fluids. He seemed hopeful that if he could take the fluid out, Akita might feel better. Though, he said there's always that question of how the fluid got there and if it would come back.
After he took him, I could hear Akita all the way down the hall screaming. Next thing I know, the vet came in and said Akita didn't make it. He said it didn't help that Akita was fighting so much. I don't know if that means the vet pierced the wrong organ or if Akita had a heart attack. He said that it was pure blood that surrounded Akita's heart.
Girlpower, I am certainly glad I didn't leave him at a shelter and I am a bit offended that you could think I wasn't giving him another chance. In 10 days he's been to the vets 5 times, seen by 3 different veterinarians. I did everything possible and even still, I knew Akita was probably too far gone when I decided to go ahead with the XRays but still wound up doing it...because he was my baby and I just thought may be some miracle might come out of this. Akita had been my complete life the past 2 weeks. I have raised many animals and have worked in the veterinary field, I think I have a good sense of when there's only so much more you can do...and I am not a person to give up easily on any animal. Granted, I realize you are unaware of exactly how bad Akita looked like last night and today. I seriously doubt any animal shelter would've given Akita the love and devotion that I provided him in this short time.
post #19 of 24
I am so very sorry for your loss of such a beautiful kitten. Please have a necropsy done to determine the cause of death. It may give you a feeling of peace to KNOW what was wrong and that you and the vet did everything right. I hope that this baby visits you in your dreams until you can be together again in spirit.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
I brought Akita home with me and plan to bury him soon. The vet had asked if I'd like to do the necropsy but I declined. Akita was sick the entire time I had him, I knew it but didn't want to accept it. From that first moment when I found him, his breathing was labored. Even during his happier times when he was eating well and playing, that erratic breathing was always lurking but I tried to be optimistic. I was just hoping at the worse, he'd need to be on heart medication for the rest of his life...which, I guess, isn't great for him but I would've been more than happy to do that if it would've kept him alive. Maybe if he'd suddenly got sick after I'd had him, I might've opted for the necropsy.
Thank you for your condolences, this whole thing has put me in a fog...I feel so empty right now.
post #21 of 24
My heart bleeds for you and the pain you are in right now. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm sure this little soul will return to you in another kitty body to mend your heart.
post #22 of 24
I am so sorry you had to go through all of this, it bring tears to my eyes, just from seeing his pics, and reading your posts. Please know you have been in my thoughts since your first post, and I feel for you...I also don't think a shelter would have taken care of him better than you did. You followed you vet's advice and they are who we turn to in this situation, you are not a vet and you did the very best by taking him for more than one opinion. This is a very sad happening, but people like you who care so much are what we need more of in this crazy world today....
take care
post #23 of 24
Akita and and other kitties you have or may have in the future are lucky to be with you. You are a truly loveing and caring person and the cats respond to you. I am sorry that you had to go through this. Akita is now playing kitty tag in heaven. You did everything you could and now should try to feel good about that. May God bless you for the love you share.
post #24 of 24
i just read your posting, and am extending my condolences... i am so sorry what you have gone through.

Sorry you felt offended about my concerns. Trust me, it was by no means meant to cut anyone, you know?

i am very afraid to hurt people feelings always, and when i posted my concerns earlier, i guess i should have expounded my feelings further.

All that were said, were pure words of concern, not to offend or hurt. i am so sorry if my words hurt your feelings.

Take comfort, and take care of you... God bless!

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