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Heart Attack in Cats

 
 
Seizan
 
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2016 03:09 am
Has anyone here had an older cat who suffered a heart attack (congestive heart failure) and survived? Against all odds, ours did (age 19) and is now recovering (at home) but is showing some odd behavior. Odd for her anyway, not difficult behavior, but totally out of character for her.

It's been one month (since 23 Nov.). She's been home for 2 weeks. Her internal organs are all healthy. Her initial blood workup was so bad it was hard for the vets to believe she could still be alive let alone recover, but is now that of a normal much-younger cat.

I can share other details if asked, but the main questions is: Did your cat’s behavior change, did his/her old “self” ever return, and how long did he/she survive after, with proper care and meds?
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Type: Question • Score: 7 • Views: 3,958 • Replies: 36

 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2016 05:17 am
@Seizan,
No cat of mine has had a heart attack, but my last remaining cat has definitely had changes of behavior. He's only 14, but I think he's acting elderly. He sleeps more than usual and his sleeping places no longer include the hidden corners and underneath the bed. He sleeps on the bed or burrows under the covers. He used to stay outside for hours and even overnight. Now a quick 5 minute prowl is enough. He's more affectionate than before. He's still quite active, but only when he wants to be. Very much like a cat in that respect.

I don't know. I think they just change from time to time. I'm not sure it means a darn thing.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  3  
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2016 06:34 pm
My cousin's dog (11 years old) was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A new and experimental treatment became available, and he opted to try it. Not only did the dog survive, but his behavior changed. He was like a puppy again. Not only did he act younger, but he looked younger.

Granted, not a cat. But it makes me wonder whether some drugs and treatments do affect behavior.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2016 06:44 pm
@Roberta,
Veddy interesting.. no kidding.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2016 08:40 pm
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0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 03:43 am
Thanks everyone...

Before the heart attack, Anna was just a normal older cat. She fussed and complained about her food (not enough, not the right food, placed in the dish incorrectly, too many other cats, no company to share with, and of course, never fast enough...). She could still jump onto a chair to sleep, and kept the other cats in their places since she was the oldest and the Queen of the house.

Now, she walks slowly, a little unstable at times (esp. rear legs sometimes tangle each other up a bit), and she stays on floor level only. She is still weak so we don’t expect acrobatics. She is attracted to corners quite a bit, and spends lengthy times just staring into a corner, or at a blank wall just a cm away from her face.

She can see to navigate around obstacles and other cats, but she doesn’t seem to track motion so much anymore. However, her head and eyes shift when she stands by the glass door, I think she is watching the wind blow the grass and branches. So, maybe she selects what to track or watch, and what isn’t important. Before, she would sharply focus on everything that moved.

She doesn’t seem to recognize me or my wife. Actually, she seems to ignore us totally, not like her old self. She demanded our attention, now she barely acknowledges our existence. Also, she seems to be deaf. She doesn’t react to any sound or the call of her name, at least she shows no sign yet of having heard any noise or voice since she’s come home.

She has recently begun to let out a sort of loud, low-pitch meow when she is uncomfortable or unhappy (with the corner she chose).

Despite that her internal organs all check out as healthy as those of a much younger cat, she must be fed kidney-care diet, mostly canned. I blend it to a paste with just a little water, then feed her via feeding syringe three times a day, about 12 to 15 cc each time. She eats a little from the bowl at first but stops after about 1 or 2 cc. When I use the syringe, she eats best if I give her 1cc at a time. Water too, though she doesn’t enjoy drinking water if it’s forced, so I have to take care of possible dehydration another way. Each night around 10pm I inject a 50cc water-electrolyte solution subcutaneously.

I really dislike poking a butterfly needle into her each night, but it’s the only way she’s going to stay hydrated...

For someone who has cared for a heart-attack-victim cat before, does any of this seem familiar? If your cat survived for a good length of time, was there a change back to his/her old self?
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 05:52 am
@ossobucotemp,
ossobucotemp wrote:

Veddy interesting.. no kidding.


osso, The treatment cost thousands of dollars. My cousin didn't blink at the cost. The dog was family. You can't put a price on that.

seizan, sorry to hear that your cat has changed so radically. Not knowing you must hurt.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 08:22 am
@Roberta,
Roberta,

It's like seeing a very old friend, ruined and broken-spirited. We do our best for her, and only hope the Anna we knew will return.

Yes, this has already cost us nearly 2 thousand dollars.
0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  3  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 03:51 pm
It's the day after Christmas, I am up early as usual to care for animals, and Anna is much more alert and active than she has been for some time (steadier walk, covering more ground around the living room than before, seems more focused than before). Petting near her tail results in the "elevator butt" effect this morning...! I think you don't get that effect if a cat feels really unwell. Also, this morning she purrs -- not a pain purr or fear purr, but pleasure purr when I hold her.

This is an improvement...

We have a vet appointment on Wednesday. The vets are calling her a miracle because there is no instance in Japanese vet literature to their knowledge of a cat surviving a heart attack at her age.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 05:02 pm
@Seizan,
Very happy to hear that, Seizan.

I'm also interested re the medication maybe helping other cats.
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2016 07:45 pm
@ossobucotemp,
Thanks... The packets from the vet simply say (in Japanese) "Heart Medicine" and "Blood Anticoagulant". Anna was getting a diuretic earlier but it has been stopped, as her urinary tract seem to be normal, plus she was losing too much water through urination.

My wife, on whose Visa card the vet payments are made, corrects my estimate of the cost. So far nearly 3 thousand dollars...
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Dec, 2016 12:43 am
@Seizan,
Glad to hear of the improvement. I'm happy for you--and Anna--and your wife.

0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2016 06:41 pm
Slow improvement, day by day. Not bad for a 20-y/o cat...!

The chief vet at our clinic, who initially took care of Anna and determined that the problem was heart-related, is amazed at her recovery. He asked permission to use her data and photos, etc. to write a thesis for a Japan Vet Journal and for his PhD in Veterinary Sciences. Of course we are happy and proud to permit.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2016 06:58 pm
@Seizan,
That's good to hear, re Anna, and also re the vet and you two loving cat carers. I'm glad he is acting on writing this up, with photos. Good going.

0 Replies
 
CowDoc
 
  3  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 12:25 am
@Seizan,
There is a huge difference between congestive heart failure and a "heart attack". Be warned, one does not cure CHF. It is a relentless, progressive disease that results from cardiac insufficiency (that may or may not be due to a leaking valve) that increases venous pressure, and usually causes fluid accumulation in the lungs or liver, depending on whether the failure is primarily located in the left or right side of the heart. It can be controlled with diuretics and drugs that help myocardial function, but not cured. To my knowledge, the only cases of a true CHF cure have occurred in humans, and they have all been remedied by a heart transplant. Fortunately, Anna may well be old enough for the therapy to keep her going until another organ fails. That is generally the treatment objective.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 12:36 am
@CowDoc,
Thanks, CowDoc.
0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 01:00 am
@CowDoc,
Congestive heart failure was the closest translation my wife could come up with, so I went with that. I'll ask for a more specific Japanese term and look it up.

Yesterday Anna had a follow-up appointment and the vet listened to her heart, then told us it was beating well with no indication of any problem.

This morning she had another seizure and we brought her back to the vet immediately.

Blood ammonia up twice the norm, so possibly a liver malfunction -- but nowhere near the high levels she had when she was first brought in a month ago. White blood cell count is above normal but the vet finds no infection. Her blood pressure a bit low; body temperature was also low despite the heater we keep on for here close to her cage.

She is in ICU with oxygen, an IV with an array of meds, and a mild sedative to let her sleep. As before, the vet team is narrowing things down symptom by symptom...

Very hard to pinpoint some medical issues at her age.

We remain hopeful.

By the way, my new avatar is -- Anna...!
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 02:04 am
@Seizan,
She's beautiful.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 06:28 am
@Seizan,
just joining in . We have always had Maine Coon Cats (similar to your avatar) and some of them developed cardiomyopathy and we had them treated successfully using a version of coumadin and low dose of a BP control.

Weight control has always been the difficult part of Coon Cat therapies. They love food, lots of food.

Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2016 09:45 am
@farmerman,
Thanks. She does resemble a Maine Coon cat, yes. In fact I thought she was at first but the vet ID'd her as a Norwegian Forest Cat.

She loves lots of food too, but she never got overweight. Always trim and rather muscular.
0 Replies
 
 

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