Today I’m doing a special bachelor post. Why is it special? Because it’s going to be a bit longer than the usual. This kitty’s condition needs a little bit more explaining, and so I was in contact with veterinarian Dr. Laura Collins, the DVM at Tabby’s Place in New Jersey, to discuss what is needed if someone were going to consider adopting this lovely feline.
World, meet Morgan. Morgan is thirteen years old and has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common acquired heart disease in cats. It’s fairly rare in dogs, and is often seen in American shorthair varieties of cats. HCM is a thickening of the left ventricle of the heart which can cause a backup of the blood flow, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure. HCM is irreversible and there is no cure.
In Morgan’s case, the HCM lead to him developing a blood clot, one of the complications of the disease. Known as FATE (feline aortic thromboembolism), the clot can cut off the blood supply to the legs, paralyzing the cat and even leading to the death of those limbs due to a lack of blood. For Morgan, the episode of FATE didn’t seem to be too painful and also, luckily, did not cut off the blood supply completely. He managed to heal and has regained some of the use of his back legs and is walking well, according to Dr. Collins.
Unfortunately, Morgan’s heart disease is fairly advanced, and his caretakers at Tabby’s Place don’t expect him to have a very long lifespan because of it.
So, why would you want to adopt Morgan?
Because, according to Dr. Collins, “Morgan has quickly become a favorite at [Tabby's Place] because he is a charming gentleman, with great manners and is never grumpy. He seems to really appreciate the second chance at life that he’s been given. I don’t know of a sweeter, more agreeable cat. It makes us sad to think we’ll lose him one day, but we’re blessed to be able to care for him while he’s with us.”
Anyone adopting Morgan would need to bring him in for periodic x-rays and ultrasounds to monitor the progression of his disease. Morgan also requires regular medication. It is possible for him to die suddenly of irregular heartbeat or he might develop congestive heart failure.
Adopting Morgan wouldn’t be the easiest adoption in the world. It would require dedication and an understanding that every second you get to spend with your friend Morgan would be a treasure, one that would mean the world to both him and, very likely, to you, as well.
If you’re concerned about your own cat and HCM, here’s what Dr. Collins had to say:
The symptoms that people can look for at home, unfortunately, develop late in the course of the disease. Obviously, sudden onset of paralysis and pain would be an indication of FATE. Labored, rapid breathing and possibly coughing could be an indication of congestive heart failure. Frequently the first symptom we see, unfortunately, is sudden death from an arrhythmia. When veterinarians hear a murmur that has not been present since birth, that can be an indication of HCM, but some cats with HCM don’t even have a murmur. If a murmur is ausculted, most veterinarians recommend an ultrasound to evaluate for the cause.
You can get more information about HCM and FATE here.
Thanks so much to Dr. Laura Collins, the DVM at Tabby’s Place, for her detailed explanations of Morgan’s condition and to Angela Townsend for suggesting the story on Morgan and for putting me in contact with Dr. Collins.