Myrna's Story

Myrna Loy was born and raised in our home in 2009.  At eight months old, she developed a lesion on her mouth which was determined to be an allergic reaction to plastic.  The vet gave her antibiotics and steroids (despite knowing she had a heart murmur of yet undetermined origin.)  The lesion improved almost immediately.  But after a week, she developed nausea and exhibited lip smacking (an indication of nausea), began not to eat well, and seemed very uncomfortable.  When I took her back to the vet on that Monday, the vet decreased the antibiotic and steroids.  She heard congestion and xrays showed congestion but for whatever reason, she did not treat it nor suggest we see a cardiologist.  She simply said "keep an eye on it", a term I've realized vets love to use but which usually has no real meaning since owners are not often told what we should be watching and what symptoms potentially mean.

Myrna began to breathe heavily at home, began to sit and not move, and looked very much in pain.  I called the vet on Wednesday and told her of the symptoms and she said not to worry unless Myrna was breathing through her open mouth (which is actually incorrect as cats that are congested do not only pant with open mouth but will first breathe very fast closed mouth.) She said if she was still sick on Thursday, to bring her in. By Wednesday night, Myrna collapsed and we rushed her to the ER.   She was in congestive heart failure. The ER vet saved her and the next day, with the assistance of our regular vet, we got an emergency appointment with a cardiologist for that afternoon.  The cardiologist took xrays and did an echo and discovered that Myrna had advanced HCM.

We began the meds immediately.  We take Myrna to the cardiologist every three months and now every two months. She has had only two severe CHF reactions-April 2010 and July 2011-after she initially overcame by January 2010, the November 2009 CHF.  But she spent all of summer of 2013 fighting congestion and she had a heart attack in September 2013.  She has had some mild congestion since September that we deal with by giving extra lasix.  Please follow the blog post links below to read the details of her experiences.

March 2013-I covered Myrna's carrier for the latest cardiologist visit to keep her calm.   Myrna's heart has another slight growth in size.  Have decided to decrease her visits to decrease stress.

June 2013 sees another dramatic increase in the size of Myrna's heart and difficulty breathing and now taking nitrates.

Another June 2013 visit due to labored breathing and we now begin injecting lasix.

July 2013-For many reasons, injecting lasix isn't working: caused pain, lumps, might be allergy to plastic and or brand of lasix, etc.  Taking antibiotic and forgoing injections for now.

August 2013 sees another increase in heart size and more congestion, increase in meds while lesions continue to heal. No Revolution or annual vaccines can be given at this time.

September 2013-Myrna's condition worsens and her breathing rate is up to 12. We go to the ER.

September 2013-cardio visit on Friday reveals Myrna had a heart attack 9/11

September 2013-Myrna's breathing rate and energy improve after 9/11 heart attack.

In October, 2013, we continue to fight diarrhea, an issue from the antibiotics this summer. 

October 2013-She continues to recover from the heart attack in September.

January 2014-Myrna has a cardiology check-up in January 2014 and continues to be stable with slight congestion. 

February 2014-Difficulty in breathing with increased breathing rate, leads to injection of lasix and extra lasix over a weekend in February 2014.

February 2014-Her breathing rate continues to improve. 

June 16, 2014 Myrna in ER-She Now Develops Asthma 

July 2014  begin giving supplements to improve kidney function/support kidneys. Vitamin E, sweet potato baby food, 2 COQ10, vitamin C, and water.

September 8, 2014 Kidney Values Go Up and Down June-September But Doing OK So Far

September 8, 2014 Myrna Develops New Complication-Afib

September 18, 2014 Myrna Stops Eating, Unsure If Kidney Decline or Mouth Issue. 
Kidney values increased again. Changed amount of lasix and gave antibiotic. She takes antibiotic clyndamicin for possible mouth infection.  Has diarrhea once daily but mild compared to what she suffered when taking Clavamox last year.  Ends as soon as antibiotics are over.  Antibiotics improve her ability to eat.

October Myrna began not to eat or feel very well.

Myrna develops complications in November.

          November 5, 2014 begins taking 1/4 Pepcid once a day
          November 10, 2014  she develops major CHF.
          November 15, 2014 we begin daily lasix injections but lesions appear again.

Myrna develops new complications with pleural effusion in December.  She needs to have fluid withdrawn.

Myrna continues to struggle in January 2015 with pleural effusion and begins taking rutin.

In March, Myrna needs bi-weekly withdrawal of fluid from pleural cavity. 

April 2015-She develops additional heart issues: thinning and thickening walls. 

April 2015-She develops scarring in lungs and April 6, 2015 visit finds new complications.

April 13, 2015-Myrna's cardiologist, for the first time in five and a half years, announces she believes Myrna's life is nearing the end.  Her heart and lungs have developed complications, making fighting CHF difficult.

April 20, 2015 post-we review what is wrong exactly with Myrna and why bouncing back may not be as easy this time as before.

April 25, 2015 Myrna slowly begins to recover but needs to be hand fed and is slowing down. 

May 4, 2015  Myrna developed saddle thrombosis.

                     We had trouble in the ER when she had saddle thrombosis

                     Update after saddle thrombosis recovery and need to be hand fed. 

                     Cardio's notes on saddle thrombosis.

June 14, 2015 Myrna takes iron supplements to help her kidneys. 

June 21, 2015  Myrna's lung gets scratched while having fluid removed.

July 1, 2015 Myrna goes on sucralfate for stomach ulcers.

July 18, 2015   Myrna had a very difficult July with vomiting and diarrhea.  At one point, around July 18, 2015, nothing was working. We gave her Mirtazapine for appetite, Cypro for appetite, sucralfate for stomach ulcers, and Cerenia for nausea.  She was not able to keep down the food I fed her PO (by mouth).   I Googled for information and found that sodium depletion-caused by diuretics, a lot of urination, and vomiting and diarrhea-can create more vomiting and diarrhea.  Sodium is a necessary electrolyte, used to help the body maintain adequate water supply, aids in blood pressure and heart rhythm.  The negatives are, of course, for HCM cats, it can cause fluid retention, drive up CHF, drive up blood pressure, etc.  I decided to try a risky move and put a few grains of salt into the KMR and water mixture I had been feeding her. And it worked.  She perked up in two hours. 
And she continued to do well. 

August, 2015  Myrna continues to have stomach issues.   Her eating is up and down. Her breathing is ok.

August 17, 2015 Myrna begins to have trouble with increased congestion and needs to be tapped. 

August, 18-19, 2015 Myrna ends up in the ER Tuesday night with BR at 60.

August 19, 2015 Myrna Loy dies in the ER, in the Novi ER at 1:30 a.m., very quickly, of cardiac arrest and CHF.


  1. My 4 year old Alphy was diagnosed a month ago with hypertrophic Cardomyopathy. He is on baby aspirin every 3-4 days, furosemide, attenlol, another something like that and eats a K/d diet. Thank you for your posting on Myrna! Is plavix better than aspirin?

  2. My 4 year old Devon laddie was diagnosed with hypertrophic Cardomyopathy a month ago. Thanks for posting about Myrna! I am glad she lived so long! How is she doing now? My boy is on baby aspirin every 3-4 days. Is plavix better? He takes attenlol, furosemide, and one other as well as eating Hll's k/d.

    1. She's doing well enough. I can tell she's slowing down. She's not as active as she was two or three years ago. Her back legs are weak from weak pulses and sometimes she's not able to jump around easily. But then she'll dart, and run around the house and play and be very vocal. So, it comes and goes. The early summer she had congestion and then asthma issues but those are now under control or so we hope and so it seems. We're working on giving supplements to improve kidney function as her values were just above high normal in July. There might be more info to update in Story and Meds which I'll work on later. Plavix I believe is better. The cardio likes to start with that and then add aspirin as needed so Myrna's now on both for the last couple of years. She also likes to avoid aspirin as it isn't tolerated well by cats and blood work is needed to make sure kidneys are handling it. Some vomit or have gastro issues because it upsets the stomach. Aspirin stays in the body for days unlike other meds which is why they should only get it every 72 hrs. That's why we do Wednesday and Saturday which almost works out as 72 hrs apart. Lasix or furosemide is key to preventing congestion. While Myrna's on a very high dose after a few years, most cats begin with 5mg twice a day and work up from there as needed. Never be afraid to increase the dose even if just one extra dose or so if the cat is breathing fast. Always stay on top of breathing rate, monitor daily, a few times a day when you're around. If the cat is congested and breathing rate increases, give one extra dose and wait a couple of hours. If breathing increases, or if there's no slowing down, try it again or go to the ER or vet. Staying on top of, and not being behind congestion, is key. Good luck!

  3. Hi. My cat Sambo is going through this exact same thing. He is sleeping right now as we are waiting for 2:30 to roll around and we can get him to the vet for thorocentesis (draining fluid in his chest). ..again. We were just there on Friday and I noticed last night that he was starting to have labored breathing again. I gave an extra dose of Lasix (furesomide) which I have to apply transdermally due to the fact that he is IMPOSSIBLE to pill here at home and will not take his meds in any other way, shape or form except for the few rare occasions where we successfully tricked him by hiding his medicine( both pills and later compounded liquid) in his food or treats after witholding his regular food (which in my opinion, was starving him until he had no choice but to eat, so needless to say, that didn't go on for very long). To this day he is still convinced there is something hidden in his food and proceeds with caution when given anything at all to eat. This cat gives a whole new meaning to being finnicky. So, anyway, that's the reason for giving his meds transdermally. Had I not searched the web for alternatives in giving cats meds like the way I give him Revolution and asked the ER cardiologist at Metro if something like that was available, who knows where we would be now. Anyway, I have to get us ready for the vet so I will continue this later. I have been actively researching online and other places and I have never openly blogged about anything so I just wanted to take the first step and finally commit to start sharing this experience with others...and now I be cont.)

  4. Thank you for sharing Myrna's story. I have an HCM kitty and her story/ your committed care for her have helped me desk with my own struggles in taking care of Hudson. Thank you for loving sweet Myrna and for giving her an amazing life. May she find peace on the other of the rainbow bridge. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  5. Hi. My 8 year olg Pokri has been diagnosed with HCM about three months ago. She is on Clopidogril daily and a small bi weekly dose of Lazix. Apart from that she is taking potassium supplement Kaminox. Your post on your kitty gives me hope that cats with HCM can live for a while if it's managed well. Mine also has weak kidneys, so she is on her Farmina Renal Diet. Is there any diet you had put Myrna on? Since this is a relatively under diagnosed disease in India we do not have the best care here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks. Jyoti Neggi Mumbai.

    1. Hi-sorry to hear about your cat. Good luck with her care. Please read the Med tab also for more information. We did not have her on any special diet for her heart or for her kidneys. For our older cat Baby that has CKD, she is on a renal diet and medication. For HCM cats, I usually recommend feeding mostly wet food, less dry, and fewer treats, and no chips/crackers/human foods in order to avoid sodium. The reason is because the diuretic pulls out fluid and electrolytes-one of which is sodium-is in that fluid. As for her kidneys, I used vitamins and supplements to help her kidneys process. You can read what I used at the Med tab. You should increase the potassium since the cat has CKD and is on lasix. We use Renal K (Amazon, online pet stores.) You may need to increase the lasix to prevent congestion; and if the cat gets congestive heart disease, you'll need to put it on daily doses. Keep that in mind. Our senior cat has CKD (but not heart disease) and must be on a renal diet and take a blood pressure medication. You need to control blood pressure for the heart disease as well as the kidney disease. Typically, heart patient cats get heart related meds to control blood pressure. You should try an ACE inhibitor like Enalapril; and a beta blocker like Atenolol. Ask the vet. These meds are human meds. You can read about them at the Med tab and call to see what your local pharmacies have; then ask the vet about prescribing them. Good luck!