One such encounter was with a cat called Felix, a 10-year-old, shorthaired, tabby cat who loves hunting in the garden for mice. His owner mentioned that Felix had occasionally been panting when he came in from the garden and been losing weight over the past few months, despite eating normally. However, she assumed this was as a result of the recent hot weather. When he was brought in for his booster, we noticed his gums were pale pink; he had difficulty breathing; his heart sounds were muffled; his abdomen was full of fluid and his pulses were weak.
We immediately put Felix into a kennel with fresh oxygen to stabilize him before investigating the cause. X-rays and an ultrasound of his heart were taken.
On the x-ray of his chest (pictured), we saw fluid around the lungs, a large gas filled stomach because he had been gasping for air, and free fluid in his abdomen. 150ml of fluid was drained from his chest and around his heart, which soon made it easier for him to breathe. A cannula was then placed into his vein, through which we could deliver Furosemide (a drug to decrease fluid in the body cavities). Ultrasound allows us to see a moving image of the heart and revealed his heart wasn’t contracting as well as a healthy heart. As a result, not enough oxygen was reaching his organs and Felix had to breathe faster and deeper using up more energy and fat reserves.
His heart disease is now managed through tailor made medication. After 3 days of stabilization, Felix was able to go home. After a month on therapy, Felix began to gain weight and was once again bringing in the normal quota of mice for his owner!