How can I tell if my cat has a heart murmur?

Identifying symptoms of a potential heart murmur in your cat is essential for their health and well-being. While it can be challenging to detect, there are some signs you can look for. If you notice your cat is breathing rapidly or struggling to catch their breath, this could be an indicator of a heart murmur. Additionally, if they seem to be tiring easily during physical activity or are not as active as usual, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. Regular check-ups are crucial for detecting and managing any potential heart issues in your feline companion, so don’t hesitate to reach out for professional guidance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Listen for abnormal sounds: If you hear a whooshing or swishing sound when listening to your cat’s heart with a stethoscope, it may indicate a heart murmur.
  • Look for symptoms: Symptoms of a heart murmur in cats may include coughing, difficulty breathing, fainting, or lethargy.
  • Consult a veterinarian: If you suspect your cat has a heart murmur, it is important to seek guidance from a veterinarian, who can conduct a thorough examination and possibly recommend further testing.
  • Understand the potential causes: Heart murmurs in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including congenital heart defects, valve abnormalities, or other underlying health conditions.
  • Regular monitoring is important: Even if your cat is diagnosed with a heart murmur, regular check-ups and monitoring by a veterinarian can help manage the condition and prevent complications.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Even though cats are notorious for hiding their discomfort, there are several signs that you can look out for to recognize if your cat may have a heart murmur. These symptoms can be subtle and easily overlooked, so it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your cat’s behavior and physical condition.

Audible Signs of Heart Murmurs

If your cat has a heart murmur, you may be able to detect it by listening to their heartbeat with a stethoscope. A whooshing or swishing sound may indicate the presence of a murmur. Keep in mind, though, that not all heart murmurs are audible, and some may only be detectable with more advanced diagnostic tools.

Behavioral Changes and Physical Symptoms

Aside from audible signs, watch out for behavioral changes in your cat. Symptoms such as lethargy, difficulty breathing, coughing, or fainting can be indicative of a heart murmur. Additionally, you may notice loss of appetite, weight loss, or weak hind legs. Physical symptoms like abnormal heart rate, weak pulses, or enlarged abdomen can also be signs of a heart murmur. If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek prompt veterinary care for your cat.

Diagnostic Approaches

One of the most effective approaches to diagnosing a cat’s heart murmur is through a veterinary examination. You can learn more about this in the comprehensive guide Heart Murmur in Cats: Everything You Should Know.

Veterinary Examination Procedures

During a veterinary examination, your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen for abnormal heart sounds that indicate a heart murmur. They may also check for other signs such as breathing difficulties, abnormal heart rate, or pulse irregularities. Your veterinarian will also ask you about your cat’s medical history and any symptoms you may have noticed at home.

Advanced Diagnostic Tools

If a heart murmur is suspected, your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic tests such as X-rays, electrocardiograms (ECG), or echocardiograms. These advanced tools can provide more detailed information about your cat’s heart, including the size of the heart chambers, the function of the heart valves, and any potential structural abnormalities.

  1. X-rays: Can reveal the size and shape of the heart and detect any abnormalities in the lungs or surrounding tissues.
  2. Electrocardiograms (ECG): Measures the electrical activity of the heart and can identify abnormal rhythms or conduction disturbances.
  3. Echocardiograms: Use ultrasound waves to create a detailed image of the heart’s structure and function, including blood flow and valve function.

Treatment Options

Now that you know how to identify the signs of a heart murmur in your cat, let’s go over the treatment options available. The type of treatment your cat may need will depend on the severity of their condition and the underlying cause of the heart murmur.

Managing Mild Heart Murmurs

If your cat has been diagnosed with a mild heart murmur, your veterinarian may recommend a “wait and see” approach. In many cases, mild heart murmurs will not require any specific treatment and can be managed through regular monitoring of your cat’s condition. Your vet may suggest keeping an eye on your cat’s weight, diet, and exercise levels to ensure they remain healthy. It’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your vet to monitor any changes in your cat’s heart murmur.

Treatment Strategies for Severe Cases

If your cat has been diagnosed with a severe heart murmur, treatment options will be more aggressive. Your vet may recommend medication to help manage your cat’s symptoms and improve their quality of life. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a congenital heart defect or to address a more serious underlying issue. It’s crucial to follow your vet’s recommendations closely and to monitor your cat’s condition for any changes or signs of deterioration. Severe heart murmurs require careful management, and your vet will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your cat’s specific needs.

Maintaining Your Cat’s Heart Health

Despite the potential risks associated with a heart murmur, it is possible to maintain your cat’s heart health and improve their overall quality of life. By taking proactive measures and making informed choices about your cat’s lifestyle, diet, and healthcare, you can help reduce the impact of a heart murmur and ensure your cat remains as healthy as possible.

Lifestyle and Dietary Considerations

When it comes to maintaining your cat’s heart health, it’s important to consider their lifestyle and dietary choices. Ensuring your cat maintains a healthy weight and gets regular exercise can play a significant role in reducing the risk of heart-related issues. Additionally, feeding your cat a balanced and nutritious diet can support their overall cardiovascular health. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet and exercise plan for your cat’s specific needs.

Regular Health Check-ups and Monitoring

In addition to lifestyle and dietary considerations, regular health check-ups and monitoring are essential for maintaining your cat’s heart health. Your veterinarian can monitor your cat’s heart function and provide guidance on any necessary medications or treatments. By staying proactive and vigilant in monitoring your cat’s condition, you can identify any potential issues early and take action to address them effectively.


With these considerations in mind, it’s important to be aware of the signs that may indicate your cat has a heart murmur. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, weakness, or fainting, as these could be indicators of a heart problem. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian and paying attention to any changes in your cat’s behavior can help in detecting a heart murmur early and seeking proper treatment. Remember, early detection and intervention can greatly improve your cat’s quality of life and overall well-being.


Q: What are the symptoms of a heart murmur in cats?

A: Common symptoms of a heart murmur in cats may include difficulty breathing, coughing, lethargy, fainting, and an enlarged abdomen.

Q: How is a heart murmur diagnosed in cats?

A: A veterinarian can diagnose a heart murmur in a cat through a physical examination, listening to the cat’s heart using a stethoscope, and possibly performing additional tests such as x-rays, an electrocardiogram (ECG), or an echocardiogram.

Q: What treatment options are available for cats with a heart murmur?

A: The treatment for a cat with a heart murmur depends on the underlying cause. It may include medication to manage symptoms, a special diet, and in more severe cases, surgery or other advanced medical interventions. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your cat.

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