Special Need: Heart Disease
Sylvia is an all-black, silky, nine-year-old beauty who arrived at Tabby’s Place in January 2011. While we welcome new cats to Tabby’s Place in whatever state they may be, Sylvia was a bit of a surprise even for us. When we first met her, Sylvia’s back legs just weren’t working right. She would try to use one and then the other, but they just wouldn’t support her weight. That’s concerning enough, but upon closer examination, we discovered that her legs were cold as well. Clearly Sylvia was in serious condition, and before she even had a chance to settle into her new home we whisked her off to the specialist for emergency treatment
It turns out that sweet Sylvia had a saddle thrombus, a result of serious heart disease. Cats with bad hearts can develop this condition, in which the uneven flow of blood through the heart forms a clot. As the blood leaves a cat’s heart, it travels through the aorta, which then branches in two towards the cat’s back legs; in a saddle thrombus, the thrown clot lodges at the crook of the branch, cutting off blood flow to the legs. This leads to severe pain, loss of leg function, and damage to the tissues, blood vessels, and nerves in the back legs. Cats with saddle thrombus have a guarded to poor prognosis and many do not survive.
Sylvia had already beaten the odds by coming to Tabby’s Place, but she was about to do so again. Sylvia survived her scary start here and has since settled in to one of our smaller adoption rooms. Once we had the chance to examine her more closely, we found that Sylvia has severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; in layman’s terms, Sylvia has an enlarged heart along with enlarged and thickened heart valves. This condition is more commonly found in dogs, but leave it to a Tabby’s Place cat to have canine-style heart disease! Sylvia also has a thickened gastrointestinal tract and an enlarged abdominal lymph node, which leads us to suspect that she may be developing either inflammatory bowel disease or lymphoma. We continue to work at understanding exactly what ails Sylvia, and how best to keep her comfortable, healthy and happy.
Perhaps Sylvia was a bit put off by her frightening arrival here, because she is a very quiet and timid cat. She is a sweetheart underneath it all, though, and our staff and volunteers will continue to work with her to reassure her that this is just about the best place on earth for her to be.
In addition to “love therapy,” Sylvia requires daily blood thinners to help prevent a recurrence of a saddle thrombus, and to ease the effects of her enlarged heart. As time goes by, we anticipate that she will need increased medication to manage her condition. Sylvia will also need frequent ultrasounds to monitor the progression of her heart disease.
Our little black beauty has a strong and sweet spirit, but we know that she would need a very special someone to offer her a forever home. In the meantime, we will continue to offer her the extra care, patience, and love that she needs for as long as she’s with us. Won’t you consider sponsoring Sylvia? With your help, we can support her health, and, we hope, convince her to open that special heart of hers to love.