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The Highcroft Blog

Have you heard about HCM?

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Both Pedigree and non-pedigree cats are commonly affected by a heart disease called cardiomyopathy. The most common form of this disease is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a thickening of the heart muscle in the wall of the left ventricle. This causes the heart to be less able to relax between contractions and pump blood effectively around the body.

It is estimated that at least 1 in 7 cats are affected by the disease at some point in their lives, and even young cats under 1 year old can be affected. Sadly, many cats with HCM experience heart failure and premature death.

Commonly affected pedigree breeds in the United Kingdom are the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Sphynx, Norwegian Forest, Persian and British Shorthair cats, although ANY cat can develop the disease. The disease runs in families and we know it is associated with genetic mutations in some cats. Despite the genetic predisposition, some affected cats do not show the first signs until later in life, but can pass the disease on to their kittens.

Signs of HCM in your cat:

Clinical signs of cardiomyopathy in cats are very rare until the disease is advanced. Common signs include:

Increased breathing rate
Loss of use of limb(s)
Collapse or fainting
Sudden death


Screening for HCM is best done by performing an ultrasound scan of the heart. Annual testing in cats over 1 year old identifies affected cats early and helps to assess individual risks and requirement for treatment. This also provides information on how best to reduce the chance of passing HCM on to future generations of cats.

At Highcroft, we are pleased to offer a specialist heart screening service for cats, by American and European Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology, Kieran Borgeat. Kieran is accredited by the VCS/ISFM and PawPeds screening services.

For more information about heart testing at Highcroft or if you would like to book an appointment, please contact Referrals Reception on 01275 838473 or email referrals@highcroftvet.co.uk.


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