Mitral Valve and Kidney Issues for Cats

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Hi. I’m Doctor Fiona Caldwell, and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page. This question comes from Denise who writes, “My 17-year old Siamese cat has degeneration of the mitral valve. Is there anything I can do to help him, and what health signs do I look for?” I’m sorry this has happened. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for older cats and dogs to develop some degeneration in that mitral valve. It is one of the hardest working valves in the heart, because it does have a really big job. After 17 years it’s not uncommon for that valve to become leaky. What you find when the valve becomes leaky and starts to degenerate is that cats and dogs will develop a heart murmur.

This doesn’t necessarily indicate that this is going to be something that will effect his quality of life. There is a possibility this is going to progress. If it does progress, what will happen is that leaky valve will basically cause there to be not regular flow through the heart, and it can cause heart failure. Things that you’re going to want to watch for that could indicate that your cat is in heart failure is a cough, exercise intolerance, which sounds a little funny for a cat. But what I mean is running up the stairs and he faints or something like that. Rapid
breathing, sometimes cats will even just become anorexic. They won’t want to eat or they won’t feel well, or they’ll hide. Those are some things that you can watch for too.

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Unfortunately, there’s been no drugs or diets or any sort of product that studies have shown can effectively stop the progression of this disease or slow it down, or prevent it. Right now there’s probably nothing you can do except be mindful of what to look for if he does develop congestive heart failure. If he does develop heart failure, there is a lot of stuff we can do. There are a lot of medications. There’s some drugs that we can give him, that can prolong his life and manage his heart failure. The next question comes from Brenda who writes, “I have bowls, fountains, gravity dishes of water throughout the house, but I have a cat who is on antibiotics for a bladder infection. What are some ways to prevent kidney and bladder problems in cats?”

This is a great question. It seems to be a really common problem in cats. First thing I would have you differentiate between is if this was truly an infection, which implies there was bacteria in the urine, or if this was inflammation. Cats will often get inflammatory conditions in their bladder, where they’ll act like they have an infection. Some veterinarians will even put them on antibiotics to help prevent an infection, or there’s certain antibiotics that can have anti-inflammatory properties. It can be a little confusing. The reason it’s important is that the inflammatory condition that looks like an infection, tends to be stress related. Things that you can do there, besides offering lots of water to encourage them to drink, you can try to help manage any stressful situations.

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For example, multiple cat households can be stressful. You maybe not having any set schedule, litter box worries can be an issue too. Make sure you’ve got at least one litter box per cat, maybe one extra if you’ve got a
multiple cat household. There are some medications that can be prescribed to help lessen anxiety in cats as well, and can translate to improving their urinary health. If it is in fact truly an infection, then this may be
related to weight. Sometimes overweight cats can develop more of an infection. They can’t groom themselves as well, especially female cats can tend to get more bacterial infections. If this is related to crystals, again you’ll probably need to talk to your veterinarian about the specifics.

If it’s related to crystals, there are diets that can be prescribed to lessen the formation of crystals, which will in turn help lessen the amount of inflammation in there. I think that lots of water around the house is a great start. You might consider a diet change. You might consider having your cat try to lose some weight if it’s overweight. Your veterinarian can help you make those decisions. If you guys have questions for me, feel free to post them on Pets Best Facebook page.

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