Back

Get started

Customized by You

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds.

Siamese cat laying on blanket in vet office

Test can help detect heart disease in cats

Q: Henry, my 2-year-old cat, was breathing fast during his annual exam. The veterinarian said his rapid breathing could be due to stress, heart disease or a respiratory condition such as asthma. She did a blood test called NT-proBNP which indicated he may have heart disease, and she referred me to a cardiologist who confirmed that Henry has cardiomyopathy. Now Henry takes medicine to improve his heart function and prolong his life.

I’m grateful my vet recognized the problem and did the NT-proBNP test. How does this blood test reveal heart disease?

A: Heart muscle cells produce small amounts of a hormone called BNP and its inactive precursor, NT-proBNP. Heart disease causes the heart to enlarge and the heart muscle cells to stretch, which induces them to secrete more of these chemicals.

NT-proBNP is more stable than BNP, and the magnitude of the NT-proBNP elevation reflects the severity of heart disease. So veterinarians use it as a marker for heart enlargement, heart disease and congestive heart failure.

Henry and other cats with cardiomyopathy, the most common type of feline heart disease, may display no clinical signs or have abnormal breathing, a heart murmur or an erratic heart rhythm. Untreated patients can die suddenly, so your veterinarian likely saved Henry’s life during what started out as just a routine annual exam.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

More From Figo Blog

According to a group of psychologists at...

We all want our pets to live long, happy,...

If you are looking for an unusual cat with...

Q: I grew up with dogs, but...

Pet Professionals: Interview With Kristen Levine Pet Blogger | Figo Pet Insurance

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Sometimes, we think of cats as needing less...

Dogs sitting on a couch in the lobby at Figo Pet Insurance

Not long ago, the presence of pets in the...

HELP