Just like humans, fluffy felines occasionally experience heart murmurs. These sounds result from blood flow turbulence. When blood travels rapidly or aggressively through your kitty's heart, it produces vibrations that are known as "murmurs." When heard via stethoscope, they may produce a "swooshing" sound.
Heart murmurs are not a disorder of themselves, but rather a symptom of another overarching problem. If you know your pet has a murmur, however, you and a veterinarian can identify a possible serious health condition, whether congenital heart disease, hyperthyroidism, anemia, aortic or pulmonic stenosis, hypertension or bacterial endocarditis.
The main symptom of a heart murmur, unsurprisingly, is its sound. Heart murmurs range from being practically inaudible, even with a veterinary stethoscope, to being very loud. The magnitude of murmurs is generally classified in grades, with 1 being the least serious and 6 the most serious. In more severe cases, heart murmurs can even produce big vibrations that you may be able to feel through your cat's chest. These loud vibrations are often referred to as "thrills." Veterinarians may use electrocardiograms to determine the kind of murmur, as well as its level.
Common Signs and Symptoms
In some cases, heart murmurs indicate heart disease. With these situations, you may notice signs and symptoms that are similar to those of congestive heart failure, including problems with physical activity and exercise, feelings of weakness, exhaustion and excessive coughing. Other symptoms that may possibly indicate heart murmur and its various associated conditions include irregular heartbeat, anorexia, problems breathing, swollen abdomen and pale gums.
It is by no means uncommon for heart murmurs to be accompanied by a complete lack of outward symptoms. With a heart murmur—even a rather serious one—your cat may look, feel and behave the same as always. Because of this dangerous possibility, regular veterinary checkups are a must! After all, your precious kitty's health, happiness and well-being depend on you.