I wish to offer some advice if I may to all who share their lives with cats. As a result of my recent experience with our beloved Asrai, it is obvious that yearly routine vet health checks are not enough. It is clear that it doesn’t matter how healthy a cat appears on yearly vet examinations and it doesn’t matter how closely you observe them from day to day, heart disease can be present for years and asymptomatic. Therefore, please consider getting a diagnostic heart ultrasound to detect heart disease. Heart disease is a silent killer of cats and please note it is also not uncommon in cats. I had never heard this from any vet before and we’ve seen many vets. Feline heart disease often goes asymptomatic for years until end stage where it manifests suddenly and then it’s a rapid decline. Unless a cat has an obvious heart murmur upon examination or some very obvious abnormality, heart disease will not be detected.
Most cats who have heart disease have no obvious problems and they can look completely healthy. Asrai (7 1/2 years old) was the most energetic and vibrant individual one could imagine. She showed absolutely no signs of illness or abnormalities in any of her vet checks annually or at any other time until 10 days before her death. Sadly, her cardiac disease only manifested at end stage where one cannot do anything to address it.
So just to be clear, unless there’s some very obvious heart problem at vet checks and this is very unlikely, it can only be detected with an echocardiogram. It will not be
detected with chest x-ray either unless there’s very obvious advanced disease. Once it is detected via an echocardiogram, depending on its progression, one can most likely manage it with medications — ACE inhibitors and diuretics.
Feline heart disease cannot be cured, but if caught early, it can be managed and cats can live very normal and healthy lives for many years. Genetic heart disease usually manifests at end stage around 7 years old. So please consider getting this fairly simple preventative diagnostic procedure for any cats who share your life. The earlier, the better. Ask your vet to order one.
End stage symptoms were coughing, which turned into almost instantaneous lung congestion and audible crackles and wheezing (relieved temporarily by ACE inhibitor and diurectic), then followed closely by anorexia, then at the very last stages vomiting, weakness of limbs, pulmonary oedema.
Up until 10 days before Asrai succumbed to this disease (4th March 2012), Asrai was running around madly, jumping, playing, eating well and completely vibrant and full of energy. Needless to say, it was a terrible shock for us and it was incredibly traumatic.
We miss our beautiful and beloved Asrai terribly, and we are so grateful that we were able to share her sweet life with her.
And please friends don’t forget that *all* other animals love life. *All* other animals deserve at least one right — the right not to be used as property and veganism is the step to taking that right seriously. Let’s stop participating in violence. Let’s stop eating, wearing and using other animals. Please go vegan and please foster and adopt nonhuman animals from shelters, in particular elderly and disabled animals.