Atrial fibrillation in cats can and does occur, and when it does, in most all cases it will remain a permanent condition.
In the severe cases, it can be fatal, and in most of the cases, your cat will also be in what is referred to as CHF, or congestive heart failure.
Atrial fibrillation is actually an electrical disturbance that is marked by very rapid contractions of your cats atrial heart muscle.
This than causes an irregular heartbeat as the electrical activity that is usually very well coordinated, is suddenly lost.
The actual definition of atrial fibrillation in cats are abnormal heart rhythms in which the atria, the upper chamber of your pets heart, become out of sync with the ventricles, which are the lower chambers.
When atrial fibrillation occurs, the atrium actually quivers or wiggles chaotically, and as a result the ventricles start to beat irregularly.
If the condition is considered atrial flutter, the atria will beat regularly but it will be faster than the ventricles.
Both of these situations are very dangerous for your cat, as they dramatically reduce the proper functioning of their heart.
Atrial fibrillation can occur as a stand-alone problem, but in most cases is a combination of a heart muscle disease or a chronic heart valve disease.
What makes this condition so very dangerous is that it can rarely be cured or corrected back to a normal state of operation.
It is estimated that over 90 percent of all the cases cannot be corrected.
The symptoms of atrial fibrillation in cats will not be real specific, and as a result, can be very difficult to detect.
The first symptom will be an unwillingness of your cat to attempt any type of exercise.
This should not be treated lightly and assumed that your cat has become lazy.
Most all cats can be very slow and methodical at times, but in this case, it will develop into a situation where it will be all of the time.
But they are not being lazy; their heart will not allow them to do much exercise.
If you suspect this, the first thing you should do is to check your cat heartbeat. If it is atrial fibrillation in cats, their heartbeat will be both rapid as well as chaotic.
The normal pulse rate, or heartbeat of your cat, should be between 130 and 240 beats per minute. Checking their pulse, however, can be somewhat challenging.
The first method is to run your hands along the inside of your cat’s thighs at the groin until you can feel the femoral artery.
If you cannot locate the artery, there is another method to try.
Press your hands on your cat’s rib-cage directly over their heart.
Do this while your cat is standing, and you will feel their pulse directly below their elbow.
With either method, count the number of beats in a fifteen second cycle, and then multiply it by four.
Do it three to four times to make sure it is accurate.
If they indeed have atrial fibrillation, it will be much more rapid. You may also be able to feel the actual chaotic rhythm as well.
The final symptom will be congestive heart failure. This occurs as the result of fluid accumulation in your cats chest, abdomen, or both.
Treatments for atrial fibrillation in cats will all depend on the actual underlying heart condition.
The major objectives of any type of treatment will be to do three things; control the congestive heart failure, control the heart rate, and to provide home therapy to slow the progression of the condition.
In most all cases, you can never reverse or completely stop it, but you can certainly slow it down considerably.
The initial treatment for your cat may require hospitalization that will involve both drugs and oxygen.
If your cat is in congestive heart failure, the fluid will have to be drained.
The first form of treatment for atrial fibrillation in cats is usually with a diuretic drug that will prevent your cats kidneys from retaining an excessive amount of sodium and water.
It will be very important that your cat does not retain water, and this is the main reason this is the first form of treatment.
However, this can be a very tricky process
If it is too high, it may cause kidney failure or lead to an excessive loss of potassium. Potassium is absolutely critical for you cat to survive.
For this reason, a potassium supplement will also be used. Liquid forms are usually advised as they absorb much quicker and much more effectively in your cats system.
Most all cats will also be given an angiotensin which acts as a very powerful controlling agent in regards to controlling arterial pressure.
It is also very effective at preventing sodium or salt retention.
However, it is also very tentative, as it can also cause kidney failure, but it can also dramatically lower your cat’s blood pressure.
Beta-blockers may also be used to control your cats heart rate as well as controlling and protecting the heart muscles.
But before these are used, ask for a second opinion; they are extremely dangerous if the dosage is too high.
As a result, your veterinarian will usually start out with very small doses and work up slowly until it starts to produce results.
However, by far and away the safest and most effective treatment for atrial fibrillation in cats will be an immediate modification of your cat’s diet.
Fish oil supplements are recommended in most all cases.
There is mounting evidence that tuna and salmon eaten twice a week has had a huge impact of atrial fibrillation in humans.
Raw tuna and salmon fed to cats can be dangerous, but cat foods that contain them as well as fish oil supplements are extremely effective.
Vitamin E and the co enzyme Q10 are also very effective in treating atrial fibrillation in cats.
Co enzyme Q10 helps to ignite the cellular power stations in your cat and this powerful antioxidant is found in concentrated levels in your cats heart muscles.
Because of this, in supplement form it may help to reinforce your cats natural ability to control the condition.
Atrial fibrillation in cats is a very dangerous situation that may never be reversed or even stopped.
But it can be controlled if you watch your cat and catch it as early as you can. If your cat suddenly becomes lazy, there is a reason.
Check their pulse when you spot these initial symptoms and then immediately notify your veterinarian.
Next, modify your cat’s diet as soon as possible. However, reinforcing your pet diet with these very simple supplements may prevent it from ever occurring.