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Grade 4 heart murmur.

Species: Cat
Breed: Short hair
Age: 11-15 years
I brought my cat to the vet because his ear was bothering him the other day. Now it is not bothering him much. She said there is nothing wrong with his hear and he must get his teeth cleaned. But on listening to his heart he has a murmur. He is extremely active and there has not been any change in his behavior outside of shaking his head when I touch his ear. She stated that the murmur sounds like a level IV. They are waiting for the specialist to come in to do an ultra sound. My question is two fold: What is the probability that is not something he has always had and means nothing and even if they say there is no heart problem, should I authorize him being sedated to get his teeth cleaned?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for an interesting question.

I usually do get concerned when I hear a murmur in an older cat. While some animals can have murmurs that are present their whole life, this is probably not the case with a Grade 4 murmur. We grade murmurs on a scale of 0 to 6, so a 4 is significant.

There are a few possible reasons for a cat to have a murmur. Sometimes it can actually be present because of dental disease. When a cat has dental disease there can be a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. We believe that this bacteria can get into the blood stream and affect one of the heart valves. If this is the case the murmur may go away after the dental cleaning.

The other more serious concern with cats is a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This happens when the heart walls are thickened. Cats with HCM can have normal lives and then as they get older the heart can start to fail. While there are some medicines that can help, they usually don't cure HCM.

The ultrasound will tell us a lot. The ultrasonographer will tell us if this murmur is serious or not. He or she will also be able to tell you how safe the anesthetic is which will help you with decision making.

I hope everything turns out ok!

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.