Dogs and cats can both get heart disease, but in very different ways.
The most common type of canine heart disease involves the degeneration and leakage of heart valves over time. In contrast, cats most often develop thickening of the heart walls. Although certain feline breeds are most at risk, this form of heart disease can occur in any cat. That’s why genetic tests are useful in identifying affected cats.
Cats and dogs also display heart disease differently. Dogs generally exhibit specific signs — like coughing and difficulty breathing — while cats may just hide or lose their appetite. The exception in some cats is the sudden development of hind-end lameness and pain when blood clots block circulation to the back legs.
Annual veterinary checkups are the best way to detect early heart disease — and that holds for both dogs and cats.