Thursday 11 January 2024

Heart disease (HCM) affects 1 in 7 shelter cats as per a study

The title may seem concerning to readers. It certainly concerned me which is why I am writing about it. The information comes from a scientific study so it is pretty sound. The researchers tested 1007 cats over the age of 6 months in shelters. They were all healthy on the face of it.

Tabby shelter cat keen to be adopted. Image in the public domain.

Of the 1007 they obtained 'complete data' for 780. 40.8% had a heart murmur. Although I understand that this condition does not automatically mean that the cat has heart disease. That said the percentage is high.

"The prevalence of HCM was 14.7% ". Yes, 15% of the cats or around 1 in 7 cats had HCM which is a common type of feline heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The left ventricle enlarges and the heart malfunctions.

The scientists concluded with the following words:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is common in apparently healthy cats, in contrast with other cardiomyopathies. Heart murmurs are also common, and are often functional.

I am unsure what the phrase 'often functional' means in this context. Taking a common sense interpretation it means that the heart although diseased functioned.

Comment: 15% is a high percentage. It encourages me to believe that tests for HCM should be conducted on all shelter cats as a default procedure. The study might not represent the general shelter cat population.

If I was adopting a shelter cat I think I'd ask about HCM and whether they did tests.

Study details:  Cardiomyopathy prevalence in 780 apparently healthy cats in rehoming centres (the CatScan study). Link:


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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