Heart Murmurs in Cats

3 min read
Jan 04, 2022

Does your cat have a heart murmur?  

According to veterinary cardiologist John Rush, 10-15% of cats have some type of heart disease.1 Even if your cat falls in the remaining 85-90%, it can be your responsibility as a cat owner to make sure you’re staying on top of your cat’s heart health.  

Keep reading to learn more about what you need to know about heart murmurs in cats, and how these are diagnosed and treated. 

What Is a Heart Murmur? 

A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that can be heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope; it may be caused by turbulent blood flow in the heart2.  

If your vet hears a murmur when listening to your cat’s heart, they may order an echocardiogram, or an ultrasound of the heart. This is an easy, painless test that guides your vet in figuring out the cause of the heart murmur, and the best course of treatment.3

Is My Cat’s Heart Murmur Serious? 

If your cat has a heart murmur, don’t panic!  

Not all heart murmurs are cause for concern. Sometimes, heart murmurs can be “innocent”. This means your cat does not have any kind of heart disease — the heart murmur is simply present without affecting the cat’s health.4

However, heart murmurs may also indicate heart disease in cats. The most common type of cat heart disease is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In this condition, the muscle of the heart’s main pumping chamber becomes thicker than a normal chamber. HCM can cause potentially deadly complications, including cat heart failure.5

In other cases, a heart murmur might be caused by something unrelated to the heart itself. Your cat could have a heart murmur because of anemia, an infection, or even a parasite like intestinal worms.6

It’s also important to understand that not all heart murmurs are the same. Vets actually grade heart murmurs on a scale of intensity. An echocardiogram will allow your vet to determine the severity of your cat’s heart murmur.7

Cat Heart Murmur Symptoms 

When a cat has a heart murmur caused by structural heart disease (such as HCM), he or she will likely display symptoms. Some of those symptoms could often include the following:8

  • Lack of appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Lethargy or weakness 
  • Pale gums 

Any combination of these symptoms should serve as a reason to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. 

Treating Heart Murmurs in Cats 

Innocent heart murmurs may not require treatment. Your vet may simply continue monitoring your cat over time to make sure no other issues arise.  

If your cat’s heart murmur is due to HCM, your vet may talk with you about cat heart treatment plans. Medication can help manage the signs and symptoms of this condition.9

Cat Health Insurance 

Worried about the cost of vet care? Cat health insurance may be able to help.1 An insurance policy from MetLife Pet Insurance2 might be able to help cover the cost of vet visits, diagnostic testing, and medication needed for treatment.1

Since cats with heart murmurs don’t always display symptoms, it’s important to take your cat to the vet to make sure everything is ok. Having an active cat insurance policy can help make these trips easier- both on your kitty and your budget.  

You can get your free quote today

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

2Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

1A Better Way to Screen Cats For Heart Disease, Tufts University

2Heart Murmurs in Cats, VCA Animal Hospital, Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc

3Heart Murmurs in Cats, VCA Animal Hospital. Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc

4Heart Murmurs in Cats, VCA Animal Hospital, Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc

5Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

6Heart Murmurs in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment, PetHelpful, 2021

7Heart Murmur in Dogs, Great Pet Care, Elizabeth Racine, DVM, 2020

8Heart Murmurs in Cats, PetMD

9Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine