My baby has an enlarged heart! :o(

BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
edited 25 August, 2010 in Cat Health
Hi everyone! Knock on wood, my two adult cats, Olivia & Tanner have always been very healthy, so I have never been the originating poster of a thread in this forum before. However, my new little one, Finn (the black kitten in the center of the photo) has been giving me a time lately. Very briefly, he, like Olivia & Tanner before him, was a feral kitten who showed up at my office about four months ago when he was about four months old. All alone, no siblings, no mama, looking as down and out as a little kitten could be. Scrawny, emaciated, the whole thing. Took me five days to catch him in a Hav-A-Hart trap, at which point I set him up in the bathroom at my office (gotta love my boss - VERY tolerant!) since I didn\'t know what he might have that he could pass on to O&T. Anyway, checkup, kitten vax, neuter and quarantine period over and one failed rehoming later, I noticed that he seemed a bit wheezy in his lungs so took him in. He was running a temp, and was prescribed Clavamox. He hated it, but worse than that it didn\'t really seem to do much for him. Two weeks later when the course was over I took him back in, where he received an injectable antibiotic, which did seem to make an immediate difference. Three weeks later, though, I could hear him wheezing again. This time he received an injectable steroid along with his antibiotic injection. Again, immediate improvement, but a few weeks later, same thing. Two weeks ago this Saturday, he got yet another steroid shot and antibiotic injection. (He had also been getting L-lysine and probiotics the entire time.) Same pattern - immediate improvement, no wheeziness for a good week and a half, and then the last couple days, I could hear the congestion again. So back we went today, this time for chest X-rays, which revealed the enlarged heart. My vet is sending the films out for review by a specialist and I should hear something on Monday, but meanwhile, this will be a very long weekend of waiting and wondering. This little guy has already been through so much in his young life, it will just kill me if he\'s got something congenital to deal with as well. So any advice or simply good thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks!

Comments

  • Lisa ProvostLisa Provost Member Posts: 4,486
    edited 21 August, 2010
    :-O We are in shock! oh my gosh, we're so sorry about this. We don't have any advice because (knock on a big piece of wood) we haven't had to deal with this. Just wanted to say we're thinking of you and we love you guys! If you need to talk you know how to reach my momma! you know she's there for you. Big purrs and hugs Alex and family |:|
  • emma clarkeemma clarke Nottingham Robin Hood CountryMember Posts: 6,819
    edited 21 August, 2010
    We went through something similar with Blade. With the wheeziness responding to steroids and antibiotics, this makes me think that the wheeziness is respiratory related rather than cardiac (maybe something like asthma) The fact that you found out Finn had an enlarged heart could be totally unrelated to the wheeziness. Lung congestion from a cardiac cause (pulmonary edema) , would...*should*... really only respond to diuretics and not steroids and antibiotics. I would just try to wait calmly to see what the specialist says - interpreting thoracic xrays is a very complex and specialist field. Not to try to give you any false hopes, but sometimes there can be distortion on xrays that make a normal heart appear enlarged. The best way to know what's really going on with the heart is to have an ultrasound done by a specialist. I hope everything turns out Ok for Finn. Purrs and paw power, Blade
  • BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
    edited 21 August, 2010
    Thanks, Alex and Blade. Blade, I thought the same thing - why would he respond to antibiotics and steroids if there is not some sort of infection somewhere. I'm a bit at a loss right now, but contrary to my usual MO, I'm not in full research mode ... yet. Trying to just wait this out and see what the specialist says - and then go from there. Meanwhile, I'll just love him even more than usual and hope the news is not too catastrophic.
  • Lisa ProvostLisa Provost Member Posts: 4,486
    edited 21 August, 2010
    I would be very stressed out too but you know me anyways, everything about seeing them sick makes me scared and upset. It's just so hard to watch and not be able to do anything. Especially when you usually feel so in control of things, like you are with their diet. It's a helpless feeling thinking you don't know what to do for your furchildren! We'll be crossing our paws for him and sending loving thoughts. I just know he's going to be okay. Give him loads of kisses for us too! |/a/|
  • BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
    edited 21 August, 2010
    Thanks so much, Alex. I appreciate the positive thoughts - they really do help. I will keep everyone posted as soon as I know more.
  • edited 22 August, 2010
    There are lots of possible reasons for an enlarged heart. Our Ol\' Man Travis had a ginormous heart because of a heart murmur, and he lived to 20 years old! Another possibility might be a simple matter of taurine deficiency. Most folks know that cats need extra taurine in their diet, and cat food is supposed to be specifically formulated to account for it. Taurine is not only important for eye health, but also for heart health & development. Of course it might NOT be the issue, but adding a little extra source of taurine certainly couldn\'t hurt. Crossing our fingers that the evaluation says things aren\'t overly serious.|^|
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 22 August, 2010
    As many times as Finn has been in the vets, and they should of listened to his heart each time, I am very surprised, the vet did not tell you, he has an irregular heart beat, which he would have, if he had an enlarged heart. That kinda concerns me. Did they listen to his heart? That is usually the first clue the vet has, there is a prob. :D The next thing they should of done, is the chest x-ray, which they did do, and any competant vet should be able to look at an x-ray, and see if the heart is enlarged, and or if there is fluid around the heart or lungs. But if he/she is not certain, sending the x-rays to a specialist, would be the correct next thing. When the vet saw that the x-ray, showed Finn's heart was enlarged, he should of listened to his heart right then and there. Why is the vet not listening to his heart? You need to ask him/her that, that should be standard, every time he comes in, and especially, with what the x-ray showed, and they should have showed you the x-ray. He also needs a CBC and Wellness blood panel, and sent to Antech or Idexx, not done in the vets office, insist on this, to see if there are any other values that are not normal. And at Antech, they have specialists there, that will work with your vet, to help determine the issue and course of treatment. The next correct step, is to get the ultrasound done, by a cardiologist. That, will tell you, exactly, if the heart is enlarged, how much, if the heart had fluid, or if the lungs have fluid, and based on the heart measurements, he/she can tell you exactly what grade he is, grades are 1-6, with 1 being moderate and 6 being severe. This also determines the course of treatment. WARNING WARNING WARNING DANGER WILL ROBINSON It is imperative, you and your vet, and anyone who treats Finn, are aware he has a heart condition, imperative. Many medications, that would be safe for other cats, are not safe, and cannot be given to a cat with a heart condition. Centrine is one, its an antispazmodic, it will kill a cat with a heart condition, it is now your responsibility, to ask, every time, a medication is given, is this safe for a cat with a heart condition, and make them look it up, never except, it prob is, make them look it up. You also want to be careful of long term steriod use, and I wouldn't be giving it to a cat with a heart condition. The others can tell you better about this. I am not a vet and I am not a vet tech, but Bumpurr has this, was diagnosed at 10 months old, and Wisconsin said he will not live past a year. I REFUSED to accept this, and my vet and I went on a long quest, and mission, to find more about this and find the ansers. We did extensive research, ended up at UC Davis, and that cardiologist, said, well....... this is what we can do. So I am pretty much an expert on this now, mol, and I know exactly what is going on, and exactly what to do, and how to manage it. The 10 month old kitten, is now 3 yrs old, almost 4, and is doing very well. When he was diagnosed, my vet pulled him from the show circuit, he was doing so well, in his treatment, she let him go back out. So when are you supposed to get an anser on the x-ray? This should not be a days long quest, this is an er basis, and you should have an ans the next day. Insist on getting the ultrasound now, the longer you wait, the longer treatment is delayed. Best of luck, this is not a death sentence, it is very very manageable, be glad to help ya, let us know, what the vet said. ((((((((((((BIG HUGS TO FINN)))))))))) =;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;
  • Renee RyzRenee Ryz Member Posts: 2,164
    edited 22 August, 2010
    Finn's Mom - it really can be managed. Tig has heart disease, and that is how I found this awesome place - looking for help, freaking out and scared. Bumpurr's Mom and the others in the Heart Groups really helped me ALOT. Now I am not so freaked, and I am prob a little over protective of him, but that's ok. I am in the process myself of figuring out what to do with a little kitten that has "adopted" Tigger through the screens on our porch. Keep us posted
  • BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
    edited 22 August, 2010
    Thanks, Loki, Bumpurr, and Tigger. Bumpurr, to answer your questions, yes, he has been seen four times now since the symptoms began, by both of the vets in the practice. Of course his heart was listened to, and there was no irregular rhythm - just lots of congestion in his lungs. He has had two steroid injections, and my vet cautioned me on the second one that she would not want to do any further injections without really digging further into the root cause because of the issues that can occur with steroid use - diabetes, etc. So we'll see what the specialist says and go from there. Of course we'll almost certainly have to do bloodwork, etc. all of which I'm prepared to do, and my vet has already mentioned having a cardiac ultrasound performed. I'll keep everyone posted.
  • BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
    edited 24 August, 2010
    Hey, everybody! Just wanted to update you on Finn. And there is good news. The specialist reviewed his chest films today and his opinion is that Finn\'s heart is not enlarged. However, there is an awful lot of \"stuff\" in his chest, so he is now on another course of antibiotics - 1/2 a 25 mg tablet of Zeniquin once daily. After this course, he will go for another checkup, and will repeat the chest X-rays just to make double sure that there\'s nothing going on with his heart. We\'ll be continuing on with the L-lysine and probiotics, and I also got a taurine supplement that I\'m going to add to some ground food (he\'s raw fed) just to reassure myself that he\'s getting adequate levels of taurine. Supplementation really should not be necessary in a properly-executed raw diet, but neither will the supplement hurt him, so for now I\'m going to play it safe. If this current course of antibios does not kick whatever this mess is, I\'m taking him to my holistic vet to see what she can do for him. I\'ll keep everyone posted, but did just want to say that to everyone who has posted here and P-mailed me to convey their support, I truly appreciate it. It was a long, worry-filled weekend fretting over my little guy and fearing the worst. I\'m still concerned, as this infection has been hanging on for some time, but then again, I need to remember that he was in seriously rough shape when I found him, and it\'s going to take him some time to regroup. All things considered, I guess he\'s doing ok, but I just want him completely healthy. Anyway, thanks again for the support - it was greatly appreciated.
  • edited 24 August, 2010
    Well, I'm glad to hear it's not a problem with the heart itself. Do they have any idea what the substance is around the heart? or is it even possible to tell? I hope the antibiotics do the trick for ya. A raw diet should indeed have plenty of natural taurine, but I'm sure Finn wouldn't mind if an extra chicken heart just happened to fall in his dish now and then. ;):D
  • emma clarkeemma clarke Nottingham Robin Hood CountryMember Posts: 6,819
    edited 24 August, 2010
    I'm not surprised to hear this, after what you said about Finn responding favorably to steroids and/or antibiotics. What I would bear in mind is that if Finn doesn't show improvements with further antibiotics (hopefully he will!), it may be the "stuff" showing up in his lungs is actually inflammation, rather than infection. It can sometimes be that infection can leave behind inflammation after the infection is cleared up and steroids are needed to get the inflammation under control. Good luck in resolving Finn's respiratory problems and purrs to Finn.
  • Paula K-Paula K- New YorkMember Posts: 2,244
    edited 24 August, 2010
    Oh, we're so relieved to hear Finn is doing better and the news is good so far! Please do keep us posted on his progress. And we agree with Loki - an extra heart or two in his bowl would probably be very welcome! ;)
  • Lisa ProvostLisa Provost Member Posts: 4,486
    edited 24 August, 2010
    :P;P~a~=;|$|;c;%:D%|/h/| If you can't tell, this is happy congratulations that he's okay!!!! LOL
  • Karina GressKarina Gress Member Posts: 402
    edited 24 August, 2010
    My Henry was breathing fast for months off and on, and one night started wheezing like crazy. When I took him in for x-rays they told me his heart was enlarged too. But his heart rate and BP were good, so I wasn\'t sure about that. Well, same story, and after a consult, they determined the muscle of his heart is fine, but the sack around his heart built up with fluid and there was fluid in his lungs too. He was having to work harder to move oxygen, hence the heavy breathing. For the past few months he\'s been on a diuretic to help with the fluid build up in his heart and lungs, and an ACE inhibitor to make his blood flow better. He\'s breathing is much better, and no panting at all. If your kitty has all this stuff in his chest, talk to your vet about if a diuretic helping. It may just be the extra help he needs to clear things out. Good luck!
  • Renee RyzRenee Ryz Member Posts: 2,164
    edited 24 August, 2010
    hope it does clear up. I know how the worrying is. Every time Tigger gets his ultrasound, I worry til I hear the good news. PLease keep us updated!
  • BROOKE LOWRYBROOKE LOWRY TampaMember Posts: 6,037
    edited 25 August, 2010
    Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate all the advice, encouragement, and well wishes. I'll keep you guys posted.
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