Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), is a handful of words put together; however, what do they mean? HCM is the most common heart disease seen in cats. As its name suggests, it is a heart condition in which swellings are seen in different areas of the heart. This can cause changes that can affect the cat’s overall health. Male cats are more commonly seen to have this condition over female cats. Comparatively, it is very rare to see this disease of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy occur in dogs.

The major signs that your cat will display with HCM are open mouth breathing, weight loss, cyanosis (blue discoloration) and increased breathing. Congestive heart failure is a very common effect that can occur due to HCM. When you present your pet to your veterinarian, he or she may wish to conduct a few diagnostic tests in order to ensure that your cat is experiencing this heart disease. Typically, veterinarians will perform thoracic auscultation, in which they will listen to your cat’s chest area with a stethoscope. Chest radiographs, an echocardiogram or other various tests may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Stabilization for your pet would be the main focus of starting treatment. Avoiding any further stress, by enforcing cage rest and gentle handing would be recommended. Based on your pet’s individual case, your veterinarian may wish to provide supplemental oxygen or certain diuretics, if needed. In the case of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, fluids are often contraindicated and not suggested to be given. These mentioned fluids can cause more harm than good towards helping your pet’s state of health. Healing options will vary when tackling either acute treatment or chronic treatment of HCM. Based on your pet’s diagnostic results, your veterinarian will have a better picture of which treatment plan is best for your cat’s health management.

There are certain breeds of cats, which are genetically predisposed to developing HCM, compared to others. The most commonly documented breeds for such predisposition are Maine Coons and Ragdolls. However, despite the more commonly mentioned breeds, others are still susceptible to acquiring this cardiac disease. One way of preventing this disease, to progress out of hand, is by conducting a genetic screening test on your pet, beforehand. This test would look for something specifically called ‘MyBPC mutations’. If they are present in your pet, it would be recommended to set up an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible, in order to educate yourself properly on how to best help your pet through this process. Client compliance in such conditions goes a very long way in helping to effectively manage the health of your pet with this disease. Such compliance can significantly affect the prognosis status of your cat with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.


Dr. H. Bhullar DVM

Dr. Sifti Bhullar, DVM