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Feline Heart Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

A Note from Dr. John:

Hopefully, when you say that your cat has a big heart, you're talking about his disposition and not the actual size of his heart.  If it's the former, lucky you!  If it's the latter, this likely means that your cat has what is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is the most common cause of heart disease in the feline world.  Hypertrophic means "overgrowth" and cardiomyopathy means "disease of the heart."  Together, you have a fancy way of saying that the heart is abnormally large.  This heart enlargement is caused by inappropriate thickening of the muscle that makes up the wall of the heart. When the walls of the heart get too thick, the heart ventricle is unable to fill appropriately.  This can lead to congestive heart failure, decreased blood pressure, formation of blood clots, and a myriad of other clinical signs.

What causes HCM?
Some cat breeds have gene muta…

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