Understanding Myocarditis In Cats

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The thickest layer of your cat's heart muscle is called the myocardium, and myocarditis is a condition characterised by inflammation of the myocardium. This is a serious and potentially fatal condition that causes lesions to develop along the muscle wall and can lead to heart failure. Prompt treatment of myocarditis gives your cat the best chance of recovering, so understanding the signs of this condition is invaluable. Here's an overview of myocarditis in cats:

Causes And Symptoms

It's not always possible to establish the cause of myocarditis, and some cats may be genetically susceptible to developing the condition. It can be caused by viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, which either target the heart directly or are active elsewhere in the body and cause secondary infections and inflammation that affects the heart. Myocarditis can also be a side effect of certain prescription medications.

Symptoms of myocarditis include laboured breathing, coughing, lethargy and an abnormal heart rhythm. Your cat may also develop a fever and lose their appetite, which can cause weight loss and an unwillingness to engage in playful behaviour or move around much. When inflammation is severe, your cat may seem disorientated and clumsy, and they may collapse and require emergency care.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

In order to diagnose your cat, your vet will take details of their symptoms and health history and carry out a physical exam. Blood and urine samples will be taken to check organ function, white and red blood cell count and inflammatory markers. These tests can also determine if bacteria or parasites are present. An echocardiogram and thoracic X-ray will be carried out, and these diagnostic procedures allow the vet to establish the extent of the damage to the myocardium.

Treatment for myocarditis focuses on reducing symptoms and addressing the underlying cause. Your cat may be prescribed anti-inflammatories, antibiotics or anti-parasitic drugs, and if they are dehydrated, they will be given intravenous fluids to help support recovery. When severe myocarditis is impacting on the functioning of the heart, your cat may require medication to strengthen the heart muscles and ensure enough blood and oxygen is being pumped through the heart. Rest is an essential part of recovery from this condition, so your cat will likely remain as an inpatient until treatment is complete. Your vet will schedule follow-up appointments to check the ongoing health of your cat's heart, and blood tests will likely be repeated at these appointments.

If your cat has any of the symptoms associated with myocarditis, schedule an appointment with your local vet clinic right away, as your cat is more likely to make a good recovery if they receive prompt treatment.

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