Heart Tumors in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment What To Know About Heart Tumors in Cats

Heart Tumors in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Heart tumors in cats is not something you hear about often. Nevertheless, it is a dangerous condition. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of heart tumors in cats

Heart tumors in cats are a rare but potentially serious condition that can have a significant impact on a cat's health and well-being. These tumors can form in all sections of the heart. However, they are mostly seen in the heart valves or in the lining of the heart. 

In this article, we will discuss the different types of heart tumors that can affect cats, as well as the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for this condition.

Causes of Heart Tumors in Cats

The specific causes of heart tumors in cats are not fully understood. However, some potential risk factors that have been identified include:

  • Age: Heart tumors are more common in older cats.

  • Certain breeds: Maine Coons, Siamese, and other breeds of cats are more prone to developing heart tumors.

  • Exposure to certain toxins or pollutants: Cats that are exposed to certain chemicals or pollutants, such as pesticides or secondhand smoke, may be at a higher risk for developing heart tumors.

  • Genetic predisposition: Some cats may have a genetic predisposition to developing heart tumors due to inherited defects in the cells that make up the heart.

  • Viral infections: Some studies suggest that a particular set of viral infections, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), may increase the chance of cats coming down with heart tumors.

It's important to note that some heart tumors in cats may develop without any identifiable cause.


Symptoms of heart tumors in cats can vary depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor, as well as the overall health of the cat. The listed symptoms may indicate the presence of a heart tumor:

  • Coughing: A persistent cough, especially when the cat is lying down, may be a symptom of a heart tumor.

  • Shortness of breath: Cats with heart tumors will likely have difficulty breathing, especially when they are active, anxious, or elated.

  • Fatigue: Cats with heart tumors may tire easily and be less active than usual.

  • Loss of appetite: Some cats with heart tumors lose their appetite and have difficulty eating.

  • Rapid heartbeat: A heart tumor may cause a fast heart rate.

  • Swelling of the abdomen: In some cases, the tumor may cause fluid to build up in the chest or abdominal cavity, resulting in swelling.

  • Weight loss.

It is important to note that some cats with heart tumors may not show any symptoms at all, or the symptoms may be very subtle. Also, it's worth noting that these symptoms can be caused by other health issues like heartworms or hypertension. In this case, deworming your cat and using hypertension medication is advised. You should consult a veterinarian if you think your cat has heart tumors.



Heart tumors in cats can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be subtle and may be mistaken for other conditions. An excellent diagnosis of a heart tumor usually requires a combination of tests:

  • Physical examination: Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your cat, looking for signs of a heart tumor or any other abnormalities.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help to rule out other conditions and check for any signs of anemia, infection, or other problems that may be caused by the tumor.

  • X-rays: X-rays can be used to visualize the size and shape of the heart and detect any signs of fluid buildup in the lungs or chest cavity.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound (also called echocardiography) can be used to obtain a detailed image of the heart and detect any abnormalities in the structure or function of the heart.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG can be used to measure the electrical activity of the heart and detect any changes in the rhythm or pattern of the heartbeat, which may indicate a tumor.

  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the only way to confirm the presence of a tumor and to determine if it is malignant or benign.

Based on the result of these examinations, your veterinarian may be able to confirm a diagnosis of a heart tumor and recommend an appropriate course of treatment for your cat.



Treatment options for cats with heart tumors will depend on the type, size, location, and aggressiveness of the tumor, as well as the overall health and well-being of the cat. Here are some of the treatment options you may consider:

  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be used to remove the tumor. This is generally only an option for benign tumors that are located in a specific area of the heart and can be removed safely.

  • Medications: Medications can be used to control symptoms, reduce fluid buildup in the chest, enhance blood flow, and slow the growth of the tumor. Some of these medications include diuretics and chemotherapy agents.

  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can be used to reduce the growth pace of malignant tumors. However, this option is usually only available at specialized centers.

  • Palliative care: For cats that are not good candidates for surgery or other treatments or for tumors that are advanced, palliative care can be used to manage symptoms, prevent heartworms, improve quality of life and prolong survival. This can include heart failure drugs, dietary management, and other supportive care measures.

Most heart tumors in cats are malignant, and the prognosis of long-term survival is poor with most treatments. However, the goal of treatment is often to improve the quality of life and provide as much comfort as possible for your cat.

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