CAT'S CORNER

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Heart Problems

Like humans, cats can experience heart disease at any age, which is unfortunately not curable in many cases. However, your cat still can have a full life, provided she gets the right medical care and TLC.

The most common form of heart disease in cats is cardiomyopathy, or problems of the cardiac muscle. Some forms of this disease are caused by a taurine deficiency (taurine is a part of protein) or problems with the thyroid; others are of unknown origin. Each of them can lead to an accumulation of fluid in the thorax and to trouble with breathing.

Something you can do right now to help keep your cat safe from heart disease is determine whether your cat is overweight. Each additional pound puts a strain on your cat's heart and cardiovascular system. Your veterinarian will tell you whether a calorie-reduced diet is right for her.

If your cat is diagnosed with heart disease, the first thing your vet will do is recommend a low-sodium diet. You should be aware, however, that one result of a heart condition may be reduced appetite and weight loss. This may be due to common drug side effects, or your cat may simply not be feeling well. To make sure your cat gets all the nutrients he needs, your vet will be able to help choose the right diet.

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