Pericarditis (Heart Sac Inflammation) in Cats What Is Pericarditis (Heart Sac Inflammation) In Cats and How Can It Be Managed?

Pericarditis (Heart Sac Inflammation) in Cats

Pericarditis is a disorder that arises when the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart, gets inflamed. This is a dangerous ailment in cats that requires immediate veterinarian intervention. This article will go through the causes, symptoms, therapy, and management alternatives.

A condition known as pericarditis causes inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, or pericardium. This inflammation could cause the pericardium's fluid to accumulate, leading to pericardial effusion. Canine pericardial effusion is quite common but rare in cats. Pericardial effusion in cats is a potentially fatal illness that requires immediate veterinarian treatment.

This article will examine the causes, symptoms, diagnosis treatment options as well as how to prevent or reduce its occurrence in this article.


There are various possible causes of pericarditis that result in the fluid around the heart in cats, including:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasite infections can all induce pericardium inflammation.

  • Trauma: Blunt force trauma, such as a vehicle accident or a fall, can induce pericardial inflammation.

  • malignancy: Certain kinds of malignancy, such as lymphoma and mesothelioma, can cause pericarditis in cats.

  • Autoimmune disorders: In certain situations, the cat's immune system may erroneously target the pericardium, resulting in inflammation.

  • Idiopathic: In many situations, the underlying cause of pericarditis in cats is unclear, and the condition is classed as idiopathic pericarditis.

  • Other causes of pericarditis in cats include metabolic abnormalities, drug side effects, and consequences from surgery or other medical treatments


Symptoms in pericarditis cats can vary depending on the intensity of the inflammation and the amount of fluid that has been collected in the pericardium. Among the most prevalent symptoms of fluid around cats heart are:

  • Lethargy and weakness

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing

  • Coughing or gagging

  • Vomiting

  • An increased heart rate or heart murmur

  • Swollen or distended abdomen

  • Pale or blue gums

  • Collapse or fainting in severe cases


Pericarditis in cats can be quite cumbersome to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague and non-specific. A physical examination, diagnostic testing, and imaging studies are commonly used to diagnose pericarditis in cats. Here are some of the most frequent approaches for diagnosing pericarditis in cats:

  •  Physical examination: Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination, including listening to your cat's heart and lungs, checking for signs of fluid buildup in the abdomen, and examining for additional pericarditis symptoms.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests may be performed to look for evidence of infection, inflammation, or any underlying problems that may be contributing to pericarditis.

  • Chest X-rays: Chest X-rays can assist your veterinarian in visualizing the size and form of your cat's heart as well as assessing for any fluid buildup or abnormalities.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG is a non-invasive test that can detect aberrant heart rhythms that may indicate pericarditis.

  • Echocardiogram: This imaging test creates detailed images of the heart and surrounding tissues by using ultrasonic waves. It can assist your veterinarian in determining the size and structure of the heart, assessing for fluid buildup, and identifying any anomalies or evidence of inflammation in the pericardium.

If pericarditis is suspected, your veterinarian may also suggest additional testing, such as a pericardiocentesis (a technique in which fluid from the pericardium is evacuated for study) or a biopsy to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation.

Treatment and Management Options

Pericardial effusion in cats treatment is determined by the actual cause and severity of the problem. Among the treatment options available are:

  • Medications: To reduce inflammation and relieve pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or other medications may be administered. If an infection is present, antibiotics may be recommended.

  • Drainage: If a substantial amount of fluid has accumulated in the pericardium due to severe pericardial effusion, your veterinarian may recommend draining it (pericardiocentesis) to relieve pressure on the heart. This is usually accomplished with a needle and syringe or by introducing a catheter.

  • Surgery may be required in rare circumstances to remove a part of the pericardium or to remove a tumor that is irritating.

  • Supportive treatment: Cats with pericarditis may require hospitalization for supportive care such as intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, and vital sign monitoring.

  • Following the initial therapy, your veterinarian may prescribe follow-up visits to check your cat's development and, if necessary, change the treatment regimen.

Prevention Tips

There are several potential causes of feline pericarditis, some of which are difficult to anticipate or avoid, making prevention a difficult task. However, precautions can be taken to lessen the likelihood of some underlying illnesses or infections and manage the accompanying symptoms. The actions you can take to lower your cat’s chance of developing this illness are:

  • Maintain the immunization schedule for your cat: Routine vaccines are an effective way to protect against many infectious causes of pericarditis.

  • Maintain proper hygiene by routinely cleaning and disinfecting your cat's bedding, litter box, and food and water bowls to help lower the chance of illness.

  • Give your cat nourishing food: Giving your cat a high-quality, balanced diet helps strengthen its immune system and lower the likelihood of certain underlying problems that might result in pericarditis.

  • Reduce stress: Cats who are agitated or nervous may be more prone to infections or autoimmune diseases, so it's vital to provide your cat with a peaceful and predictable environment

  • Ensure regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify any underlying illnesses or infections early before they have a chance to develop into pericarditis.

Was this article helpful?