Pet insurance policies are underwritten by Markel American Insurance Company.
Follow Us
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.

Q: My cats and dogs don’...

Q: My dog, Clyde, enjoys...

Q: My friend recommends...

More From Figo Blog
Dog Breed Profile: Getting To Know The Beagle | Figo Pet Insurance

Playful. Energetic. Family friendly. Ears as...

Cats On Glass: Flipping Your Feline Perspective Upside Down | Figo Pet Insurance

Cats on glass objects like tables and shelves...

Five Ways Owning A Cat Is Good For You | Figo Pet Insurance

There are almost as many ways to describe cats...

Tips For Housebreaking Your Dalmatian | Figo Pet Insurance

Dalmatian puppies—known for being stars in the...

Chaplin And Velma: Cat Rescue Stories | Figo Pet Insurance

Feral cats are a problem in almost every large...

Ill tabby sitting on the floor

Q: My veterinarian thinks my...

Dogs show empathy like humans | Sad child hugging dog

Q: Please tell me it’s not my...

combing can help reduce hairballs in cats

A wonderful thing about cats is that they...

HELP