Top Ten Signs of Heart Disease in Cats

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: February 27, 2012
Image: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock
Be Aware…

Heart disease in cats presents itself in much the same way as in dogs, with a few exceptions. The biggest difference is that cats tend to mask their signs better than dogs, and therefore go longer without detection. Since early detection is key, be on the look-out for the following signs...

Image: Viaceslav K. / Shutterstock
#10 Vomiting

While coughing is a major symptom of heart disease in dogs, it does not often occur in cats. Cats, however, do vomit as a result of heart disease, where dogs do not.

Image: John Wollwerth / Shutterstock
#9 Difficulty Breathing

If your cat’s breathing becomes labored, or if it experiences shortness of breath or begins to breathe more rapidly than usual, it may be a sign of heart disease.

Image: Nadinelle / Shutterstock
#8 Thromboembolisms

Thromboembolisms are blood clots, and they are often a result of heart disease in cats - and often the first sign that is noticed. Most frequently, it is "saddle thrombus," by which a blood clot lodges at the end of the aorta and cuts off proper blood supply to the hind legs. Symptoms are pain and the inability to walk normally on the hind legs. The femoral pulse may be weak or absent in one or both hind legs.

Image: Julia Pivovarova / Shutterstock
#7 Depressed/Withdrawn

If your cat begins to exhibit changes in behavior like acting depressed, withdrawn, reluctance to accept affection, or isolating itself, the behavior may be caused by heart disease.

Image: April Turner / Shutterstock
#6 Poor Appetite

A cat will not suddenly lose its appetite for no good reason. There will almost always be a larger cause behind a poor appetite. Be aware of other signs as well and seek veterinary assistance.

Image: Nailia Schwarz / Shutterstock
#5 Weight Loss or Gain

Weight loss is definitely a symptom of heart disease, though weight gain can be, as well.

Image: BestPhotoStudio / Shutterstock
#4 Swollen Abdomen

More likely than weight gain is a bloated or distended abdomen.

Image: Daniel Gale / Shutterstock
#3 Fainting/Collapsing

If you find your cat has fainted or collapsed, seek veterinary help. If your cat is experience any of these other signs, it may all be due to heart disease.

Image: Photoseeker / Shutterstock
#2 Weakness

Sure, cats nap a lot no matter the circumstance. However, if your cat appears less playful or tires more easily due to weakness rather than laziness, you may have a problem.

Image: AnetaPics / Shutterstock
#1 Restlessness

Restlessness is harder to recognize in cats than in dogs, as it seems many healthy cats are restless, especially at night. If your cat suddenly becomes restless at night where it wasn’t before, be on the look-out for other signs of heart disease.