Like a kitty and her catnip, kidney failure and heart murmurs seem to go hand in hand. That's because similar things cause them to rear their ugly heads, and kidney failure itself often triggers heart murmurs. They're scary conditions, but your animal-loving vet can come up with a treatment plan.
Anytime your kitty suffers from anemia, she may develop a heart murmur. Anemia is a lack of red blood cells. Chronic kidney failure, also known as chronic kidney disease, is often to blame for their thinning numbers. Imagine an 80-year-old man. He naturally can't do the things he did when he was 20. With chronic kidney disease, your kitty's kidneys are the embodiment of that older man. They just don't work as well anymore, and because of that, they can't pump out enough erythropoietin, which is a hormone that keeps the whole assembly line in working order so red blood cells can develop. Without enough of that hormone, red blood cell levels drop and anemia sets in, often bringing a heart murmur with it. Anemia isn't always an indication of kidney disease. Blood loss and a lack of nutrition can also cause the condition.
Blood pressure isn't only a human worry, it's a feline concern too. High blood pressure is bad news for your kitty and can cause heart murmurs along with kidney disease. And as if that weren't enough, once kidney disease occurs, it too can hike up your cat's blood pressure, increasing the chance even more for heart murmurs to develop. So your cat often suffers through a double-whammy of sorts if there's a secondary condition causing high blood pressure aside from kidney disease.
When tartar is allowed to build up on your kitty's teeth, her gums can become inflamed and infected. Your kitty's teeth can eventually fall out, which opens the door for bacteria to bully their way in and cause infections. If an infection makes its way down to your kitty's heart, a heart murmur can develop. But infections aren't only a problem for your feline's heart, they can also contribute to the breaking down of her kidneys, which leads to kidney failure.
There isn't a whole lot of symptoms with heart murmurs. They cause heart sounds that aren't normal. Kidney failure, however, comes with a long list of symptoms. Excessive urination and thirst are the most common symptoms, although they can appear in lots of disorders and as side effects of medications. Other symptoms include vomiting, hints of ammonia in your kitty's breath, sensitivity in her kidney region and a lack of appetite.
Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure doesn't normally cause heart murmurs, and a lot of times your cat's kidneys will go right back to normal or close to normal after whatever caused the condition is taken out to the trash. Things like infections, poisoning and trauma can cause acute kidney failure. If your vet can't determine the cause or the condition lasts long enough, it can turn into chronic kidney failure.
Part of your vet's mission will be to track down why exactly your kitty has a heart murmur or kidney disease in the first place. In fact, that's the only thing to do for a heart murmur. It's not a condition that your vet can put into remission or make disappear, he can only try to fix or control whatever caused it. For kidney disease, you may be popping a few pills in your cat's mouth or giving her extra fluids. Dialysis and even kidney transplants are also options. So don't worry too much, treatment options do exist and your kitty can enjoy her life despite having to put up with all this medical nonsense.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.