Monday, August 16, 2010

November and Congestive Heart Failure

Cats must be monitored closely for changes in attitude and diet.  If a cat was active and no longer is; if a cat usually eats and begins to not eat as much or at all, these could be serious and the cat should be taken to the vet.  After a week on anti-biotics and steroids, Myrna, who had perked up once the infection began to clear, suddenly stopped eating and began to be lethargic (inactive.)  I took her to the vet who said the anti-biotics may have caused her to be nauseous and therefore caused a loss of appetite.  But she heard fluids in the lungs and x-rays showed a slight increase of fluids in the lungs.  Despite this, that there was fluid in the lungs which should not be there (fluids should never be in the lungs), she did nothing but take her off the steroids and to say to watch her for signs of breathing difficulties.  She should have given her a diuretic like lasix and put her on oxygen or had us take her to the ER.  Instead, she sent us home.

By the evening, Myrna was uncomfortable and breathing hard but not through her mouth (her chest was heaving.)  I called the vet the next morning who said to continue to watch, that if she were having trouble breathing, she would breathe hard through her mouth (that proved not to be true; the chest heaving was the clue.)  The breathing became more labored but we hesitated, not knowing what to do.  We decided to call again the next morning and take her to the vet.  Bedtime was 11 p.m. and we fed the cats and put everyone to bed upstairs (they are closed off from the main parts of the downstairs.)  Myrna did move around, did eat and drink, did use the litter box but did not want to play and was breathing hard.

We were upstairs playing with the cats, getting them to run around while Myrna was off to the side watching, when suddenly, she began to fall over.  She tried raising her paw to her face but froze, then tilted, then collapsed. She struggled to get up and kept moving in slow motion.  I screamed for my husband to get the carrier.  I gathered her up and he ran her to the ER.  There, she would spend the night and part of the next day before seeing a cardiologist in another city who would pronounce the bad news-that Myrna had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.   We would also find out that we were in danger of losing her that night had we not taken her immediately to the ER as her heart and lungs were shutting down due to the build up of fluid in the heart and lungs.

Lesson learned:  When a cat is having trouble breathing, even when the chest is heaving, the cat must be taken to the ER or to the vet immediately.  Do not wait a day or a few hours.  We should not have listened to the vet when she said to monitor and wait another day.  I had my doubts and I should have acted on them.  I understand the vet hadn't seen Myrna in this stricken state and could not determine over the phone how bad were her breathing problems.  I should  have acted on instinct and taken her to see the vet.

When a heart murmur or other heart issue is discovered early, the cat must receive a cardioac ultrasound so that you know exactly what is the problem. Problems discovered early can be tackled with a better outcome than problems that are ignored and left to render the cat lifeless.
If a heart murmur is detected, the cat should NEVER receive steroids for any illness until the cause of the murmur and the condition of the heart is determined. Giving steroids to a cat that is ill will damage the heart further and cause conjestive heart failure.

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