Heart Valve Defects in Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Diagnosing and Managing Feline Heart Valve Defects

Heart Valve Defects in Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment https://unsplash.com/photos/HW_6USwudbo

Heart valve abnormalities are a common cardiac issue that affects cats and, if left untreated, can lead to major health concerns. We discuss more in this article.

Heart valve defects are a common cardiac condition that affects cats and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. When the heart valves, which control how much blood flows through the heart, malfunction, certain problems develop. A variety of symptoms, from little discomfort to potentially fatal illnesses, can result from this.

The causes, signs, and treatments of heart valve abnormalities in cats will all be covered in this article.

Where Is a Cat’s Heart Located?

The heart of a cat is situated in the chest, behind the sternum or breastbone, and between the lungs. It is placed just a little to the left of the chest's center. The heart is in charge of pumping blood to the cat's organs and tissues, giving them oxygen and nourishment. Although age, the intensity of exercise, and general health can all affect heart rate, it can range from 120 to 140 beats per minute in healthy cats.

Types of Heart Valve Defects In Cats

Cats are susceptible to a variety of heart valve abnormalities. The following are some of the most typical:

  • Mitral valve insufficiency: This occurs when the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and left ventricle, doesn't close properly, leading to the backflow of blood into the atrium.

  • Aortic valve stenosis: This condition is identified by the narrowing of the aortic valve, which can obstruct blood flow from the heart to the body.

  • Tricuspid valve dysplasia: This is a congenital condition in which the tricuspid valve, which separates the right atrioventricular valve and right ventricle, is malformed or underdeveloped.

  • Pulmonic stenosis: The pulmonic valve, which divides the right ventricle and pulmonary artery, is constricted in this congenital disorder, making it challenging for blood to reach the lungs.

  • Mitral valve dysplasia: This is a congenital condition in which the mitral valve is malformed or underdeveloped.

  • Endocarditis: An infection of the heart valves has the potential to harm and damage the valves.

Causes of Heart Valves Diseases

Cats with heart valve anomalies can have a variety of reasons, including inherited disorders that emerge later in life and congenital abnormalities that are present from birth. The following are a few of the most typical causes of heart valve problems in cats:

  • Aging: As cats age, the heart valves can become stiff and lose their ability to function properly, leading to heart valve defects.

  • Infections: Certain types of infections, such as bacterial endocarditis, can cause inflammation and damage to the heart valves, leading to defects.

  • Cardiomyopathy: This illness can result in cardiac valve abnormalities and damages the heart muscle.

  • Tumors: It's possible for tumors to develop on or close to the heart valves, interfering with normal function and resulting in abnormalities.

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure can damage to the heart valves over time, leading to defects.


The signs of heart flap problems in cats can vary depending on how severe the illness is, but can include:

  • Shortness of breath: This can be indicated by rapid or open-mouthed breathing, panting, or gasping for air.

  • Fatigue: Cats with heart valve defects may tire easily and have less energy for play and exercise.

  • Coughing: A persistent cough, especially after exercise or activity, can be a sign of heart valve defects.

  • Weakness: Cats with heart valve defects may appear weak and lethargic, and may have difficulty standing or jumping.

  • Loss of appetite: Some cats with heart valve problems may become malnourished and lose weight.

  • Rapid heartbeat: This can be indicated by a strong, pounding heartbeat that can be felt or heard.

  • Swelling: Cats with heart valve problems may enlarge in the legs, abdomen, or chest as a result of fluid retention.

It's crucial to seek veterinarian care as soon as you can if your cat displays any of these symptoms. The prognosis for cats with heart valve problems can be improved with early identification and treatment, which can also stop additional heart damage.


Various tests and techniques are generally used to diagnose heart valve issues in cats, including:

  • Physical examination: Your cat's heart and lungs will be thoroughly examined by your veterinarian, who will also listen for any abnormalities or heart murmurs in the cat heart chambers.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help determine if your cat has any underlying conditions that may be contributing to heart valve defects, such as an infection or kidney disease.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test gauges your cat's heart's electrical activity and can assist identify any irregularities in the rhythm or pattern of the pulse.

  • Radiographs (X-rays): Radiographs can help your veterinarian visualize the size and shape of your cat's heart and check for any fluid buildup in the lungs.

  • Ultrasound (Echocardiogram): An ultrasound of the heart, also known as an echocardiogram, can provide a detailed view of the heart valves and their function.

Treatment Options

Treatment for heart valve defects in cats depends on the severity of the condition and may include:

  • Medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms of heart valve defects. Diuretics like SALIX and FUROSEMIDE help to reduce fluid buildup. Also, heart medications regulate the heartbeat and improve blood flow.

  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged heart valves. This is typically performed by a veterinary cardiologist.

  • Dietary changes: Your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes to help manage the symptoms of heart valve defects, such as reducing sodium intake to reduce fluid buildup.

  • Lifestyle changes: Your veterinarian may also recommend changes to your cat's lifestyle, such as reducing stress and increasing exercise, to help manage the symptoms of heart valve defects.

How to Prevent Heart Valve Diseases In Cats

Pet owners can take the following actions to lessen the chance of heart valve abnormalities or to assist manage the symptoms of this condition:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Keeping your cat at a healthy weight can help reduce the strain on the heart and reduce the risk of heart valve defects.

  • Provide regular veterinary care: Regular veterinary exams can ensure that any underlying diseases are well handled and help detect heart valve anomalies early, when they are simpler to treat.

  • Follow a balanced diet: Feeding your cat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help support overall heart health and reduce the risk of heart valve defects.

  • Reduce stress: Reducing stress in your cat's environment can help reduce the risk of heart valve defects and improve overall health.

  • Avoid exposing your cat to toxins: Certain toxins, such as pesticides and second-hand smoke, can be harmful to your cat's heart and increase the risk of heart valve defects.

Sadly, it's not always possible to avoid heart flap problems in cats. However, following the steps above will minimize the risk of your feline friend coming down with this disease.

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