Objective—To assess the frequency of heart murmurs
in overtly healthy cats.
Sample Population—103 healthy domestic cats.
Procedure—Background information and physical
characteristics were assessed in cats that were candidates
for blood donation during an 8-month period. For
cats with heart murmurs, additional information collected
included murmur timing, grade, point of maximal
intensity, and presence of additional heart sounds.
Results—Heart murmurs were detected in 22 of the
103 (21%) cats. Echocardiography was performed in 7
of those 22 cats. The echocardiogram was considered
normal in 1 cat; in the other 6 cats, diagnoses included
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (interventricular septal
hypertrophic form [IVSH]; n = 4), left ventricular
concentric hypertrophy with valvular disease (1), and
equivocal IVSH (1). Thirteen cats had more than 1
examination during the study; 3 of them developed
heart murmurs. There were no significant differences
in age, sex, breed, coat color, eye color, or heart rate
between cats with and without murmurs. Among the
103 cats, there were 6 pairs of siblings from 6 multiple-
cat households and 16 cats from 7 multiple-cat
households in which the cats were not related; the
proportion of cats with murmurs was higher in the
related cats (5/12) than in the unrelated cats (3/16),
but the difference was not significant.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated
that heart murmurs are detectable in a large
proportion of overtly healthy cats and that many murmurs
appear to be caused by structural heart disease
that is in a clinically latent state. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:384–388)
Objective—To determine signalment, clinical signs,
diagnostic findings, treatment, and outcome for cats
with atrial fibrillation (AF).
Procedure—Medical records of cats that met criteria
for a diagnosis of AF (ECG consisting of at least 2
leads, clear absence of P waves, supraventricular
rhythm, and convincingly irregularly irregular rhythm)
and had undergone echocardiography were reviewed.
Results—There were 41 males (37 castrated) and 9
females (7 spayed). Forty-one were of mixed breeding;
9 were purebred. Mean ± SD age was 10.2 ± 3.7 years.
The most common chief complaints were dyspnea,
aortic thromboembolism, and lethargy. In 11 cats, AF
was an incidental finding. Mean ± SD ventricular rate
was 223 ± 36 beats/min. The most common echocardiographic
abnormalities were restrictive or unclassified
cardiomyopathy (n = 19), concentric left ventricular
hypertrophy (18), and dilated cardiomyopathy (6). Mean
± SD left atrial-to-aortic diameter ratio (n = 39) was 2.55
± 0.80. The most common thoracic radiographic findings
were cardiomegaly, pleural effusion, and pulmonary
edema. Median survival time (n = 24) was 165
days (range, 0 to 1,095 days). Eight of 24 cats lived for
≥ 1 year after a diagnosis of AF was made.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest
that AF occurs primarily in older adult male cats
with structural heart disease severe enough to lead to
atrial enlargement. Atrial fibrillation in these cats was
most commonly first detected when signs of decompensated
cardiac disease were evident, but also was
commonly identified as an incidental finding. (J Am
Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:256–260)