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Need advice/input

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,
Took Peter to the vet yesterday. He does have a heart murmur like his brothers, classified at 2 (out of 6 - most serious). She's recommending
xrays and a cardiac consult, although said it doesn't need to happen right away. Also, we could just monitor the situation for the time being. I've read that some young cats outgrow heart murmurs. So far, Peter is showing no other symptoms, ie cardiac cough, lethargy, poor appetite or difficulty eating. Playing and eating are not an issue with my crazy boy!

I'm leaning toward just keeping an eye on the situation for now and having Peter checked out periodically. Got a little weepy at the vet's office when she mentioned this could potentially shorten his life span. I just want to do what's best for the little guy, but obviously, with two other cats, also need to think about what's going to be practical financially in the long run.

I'd appreciate any advice or input any of you have. Thanks so much!
post #2 of 6
Ugh, this is rough. I am completely in the same boat in terms of financial concerns, but on the other hand you don't want to let something go and then regret it later.

The only experience I have with heart murmurs is in people (dad and sister--my sister grew out of it) and in my dog. She's a standard poodle, and has a heart murmur all her life--I think the same classification, 2. Well, she's 15 years old now, and though she has slowed down a lot in the past two years, her heart murmur has never been a problem. Even when she was 6 and had a huge emergency thing (her stomach got twisted inside of her and she was at the vet's for about a week plus surgery), the murmur was never a concern. The vet would mention it at her exams, but she's lived a good life.

Of course, dogs are not completely analogous to cats, so I'm sure you'll take my input for what it is. If I were you, I think I'd have the boys checked out again at around 18 months, and if the murmur is still there, then possibily go through with the more extensive testing.

Can you ring up another vet in your area and ask what they would recommend for a 9-month-old with a class 2 murmur? Maybe you could find a cats-only vet (if you don't have one already) to ask--they might be willing to give you a quick summary of what they consider to be standard procedure under these circumstances.

Good luck!
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Good advice. Thanks.

Just spoke to the adoptive mom of Pete's brothers. Turns out only one, Mr. Smudge, has a murmur. Her vet has advised just observing him for the time being too. We're planning to keep in touch about our "boys" are doing.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
I consulted another vet who said he tends to take a more conservative approach in dealing with a young cat with a grade 3 murmur or less. He recommends reassessing the degree of the murmur at the time of Peter's next check up, then continue to track as long as it remains the same. He agrees it could also resolve itself. Did say a cardiac ultra-sound would be warranted if other symptoms develop.

I'm really torn about this. I see no reason to put Peter through the stress of strangers poking and prodding him if it's not necessary. He's still extremely shy around anyone but me and it broke my heart to see how scared he was at the vet. At the same time, I don't want to ignore what could be a more serious problem down the road. I love my little guy!

Please tell me what you would do. Thanks.
post #5 of 6
eilcon - my little guy was diagnosed with a heart murmur too. Only one vet was able to detect it - the others who listened couldn't hear it. Since it was classified a 2, I was told it was mild. However, heart murmurs are sometimes an indication that there are additional heart problems occurring. The only way to rule that out is to have an echo, or ultrasound of the heart.

That's what I did for my little boy. I went to a board-certified cardiologist who performed an ultrasound of the heart. It's a non-invasive test. Peter doesn't even need to have any hair shaved for this type of ultrasound as is needed for ultrasounds of the abdomen, for example. Because the test isn't painful or invasive, no anesthesia is needed.

Unfortunately, my baby was diagnosed with mild hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). He'll need to be monitored every so often with additional ultrasounds.

HCM is called a "silent killer" because it often strikes young cats without warning or symptoms of any kind. The only was to diagnose it is with ultrasound. Don't wait until "other symptoms develop" as your vet said.

I know you don't want to stress your baby, but what you don't know could hurt him. Better to find out now if there's anything wrong besides the murmur. If it's just a murmur, it may never worsen or cause Peter any trouble. You'll also have peace of mind knowing that there isn't something more serious going on. If it turns out he does have an underlying heart condition, you want to know so that you can begin to treat it. There is no cure for HCM, but there is treatment.

These decisions about testing are never easy, especially since our babies get stressed in the process. When it comes to a potentially life threatening condition, though, there isn't much choice. I think you should do the test, but make sure you get a certified cardiologist to do it, even if you have to go to another facility for the test.

Best of luck to you and Peter.
post #6 of 6
Just wanted to share my experience. I had a cat with a heart murmur. I don't know what class it was. The vets struggled to hear it most of the time over his incredibly loud purring. He was a big orange tabby cat, and his heart never slowed him down. He was often overweight (top weight was 25 pounds!) but very active. He used to get stuck on our roof, and even crawled on to the neighbor's once as well. He loved walking across the fence but hated jumping down. He talked constantly. He passed away suddenly at the age of 12 last year. He didn't suffer, and he lived a good life. I don't remember being told about the echo or HCM, but I was only 12 when Alex came to live with us. I would say that if you can afford the test, great. If you can save up for it, that might be good. Otherwise, keep an eye on him and enjoy whatever time he has. We never know how long our babies will be with us. Some stay for only a few months, while others for more than a decade.
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