Skip to main content


Nutritional Assessment in a Cat with Congestive Heart Failure

Published: 10/25/2016

What underlies the congestive heart failure in this well-cared-for cat? It is not hypercontractile cardiomyopathy. Find the answer in this article by: 

Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, Tufts University 
Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians 
Gregg K. Takashima, DVM, WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee Series Editor

The Case

A 10-year-old neutered male domestic shorthaired cat was presented to the emergency room for tachypnea and dyspnea. The cat had previously been healthy, was up-to-date on vaccinations, lived indoors, and was the only animal in the household. On presentation, the cat had a heart rate of 240 bpm, respiratory rate of 68 breaths/minute, weak pulses, and body temperature of 99ºF (37.2ºC). Crackles, muffled heart sounds, and a cardiac gallop were auscultated. The cat’s body weight was 5.3 kg, his BCS was 5/9, and he had normal muscle condition.

Furosemide was administered at 10 mg SC (1.9 mg/kg), and the cat was placed in an oxygen cage. When the cat was breathing more comfortably after a second dose of 10 mg furosemide SC, thoracic radiographs were taken and showed perihilar edema and mild pleural effusion.

Dietary History

The owner reported that the cat was fed varying flavors of a commercial cat food (1 pouch, 2 times a day) for the past year. The diet history also showed that the cat received no treats, table food, supplements, dental chews, or other foods. A review of the cat food revealed that it was manufactured by a small company and had the following nutritional adequacy statement: “[Brand X] was formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.” Ingredients listed were “organs (liver, lung, and kidney from beef, pork, and lamb); water sufficient for processing; lamb; starch; potato; calcium.”

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was suspected, but an echocardiogram performed the next day showed a dilated, hypocontractile left ventricle and a markedly enlarged left atrium (i.e. dilated cardiomyopathy [DCM]).

What dietary factors contributed to the cat’s condition? 
Read now at

To receive other practical articles, subscribe for free to the Global Edition of Clinician’s Brief. Subscribe today!