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a) Signalment:

  • Middle aged cats, at times young adults may present
  • Males may be more frequently affected than females
  • Persians, Maine Coons and Ragdolls may be predisposed

b) History:

  • Sudden development of dyspnea
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Syncope
  • Limb paralysis if thromboembolic disease occurs
  • Sudden death may occur (and may be the first sign of disease)
  • Free of clinical signs; discovered in cats free of clinical signs when a heart murmur or gallop detected on physical examination was pursued

c) Physical Examination:

  • Signs of congestive heart failure as outlined in of Clinical Evaluation of Heart Disease section
  • Abdominal effusion is rare; pleural effusion is common
  • Dysrhythmias, pulse deficits
  • If thromboembolic disease occurs
    • Paralysis of the affected limb – usually a hindlimb
    • The muscle is hard, painful and cool
    • There is a weak or absent arterial pulse in the limb
    • A shortly clipped toe nail in the affected limb may fail to bleed
    • May be the first and only presenting sign of underlying cardiomyopathy of any type
  • Gallop cardiac rhythms are frequent
  • A systolic heart murmur of mitral insufficiency and/or left ventricular outflow obstruction may be present
  • Note that the absence of a murmur or a gallop does not rule out the presence of HCM. In a recent study, 22% of cats with HCM had neither a murmur nor a gallop on physical examination.