Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common heart disease that affects cats. It’s associated with the heart muscle thickening, which can cause impaired cardiac function and potentially life-threatening complications such as congestive heart failure, blood clots, arrhythmias, and sudden death.

HCM is a disease inherited in some cat breeds, including the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and British Shorthair. It can also occur in cats without any known genetic predisposition. Male cats and older cats are also more commonly affected.

Symptoms of Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Symptoms of Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Sudden collapse

Some cats might not have any symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.

Diagnosing Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Diagnosing Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy involves a thorough physical examination, including listening to your cat’s heart and checking for any abnormalities. Additional tests could include an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and blood work to assess cardiac function and rule out other potential causes of symptoms.

Stages of Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is split into four stages based on the severity of the disease:


No symptoms are present, and heart functions are only mildly affected.


Your cat can have mild to moderate symptoms such as lethargy and appetite loss, and heart function is moderately affected.


Your cat can have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, and sudden collapse. Their heart function is severely affected.


Your cat’s heart function has deteriorated to the point where they are in congestive heart failure or have developed blood clots that can lead to sudden death.

Treating Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Treating Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can include medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to help manage symptoms and improve their heart function. In severe cases, surgery or a pacemaker being implantated can be necessary.

It’s also important to manage your cat’s diet and exercise routine to prevent additional stress on their heart. Regular follow-up appointments with a veterinarian are crucial to monitor your cat’s condition and adjust their treatment as needed.

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a serious heart disease that can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. It’s important for cat owners to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors associated with this condition and to seek veterinary care promptly if they suspect their cat is affected. With early detection and appropriate treatment, cats with HCM can live a longer, healthier life.

Preventing Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

There is no known way to prevent Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), but early detection and treatment can help manage the disease and improve your cat’s quality of life. It’s important for cats at risk, such as those with a genetic predisposition or older male cats, to receive regular check-ups and screenings.