During an examination we sometimes detect a heart murmur in a cat, but this finding is not always cause for immediate concern. During an exam we have two primary goals:
- Identify any issues
- Educate you as a pet caretaker
We want to make certain that you understand what having a heart murmur, or any of your pet’s medical conditions, mean. Having and understanding this information will then help you to make educated decisions about your cat’s care.
Scoring a cat’s heart murmur
You have seen us use our stethoscope every time you have brought your pet in for a check-up or visit. When we listen with our stethoscope to a cat’s heart we can pick up subtleties in the sounds. So when we hear a heart murmur in a cat we are assessing loudness, pitch, and in which stage of the heart beat the murmur is occurring.
Veterinarians always grade a heart murmur. We use a 1-6 scale to grade the loudness of a murmur, therefore we have something objective we can track over time. Grade 1 is hardly audible with a stethoscope, while grade 6 is not only audible with our stethoscope, but is also palpable with a hand on the outside of the chest. There is no defined rule that a heart murmur will get louder as the disease affecting the heart progresses, but it often will. (more…)