The Feline Cardiomyopathies: 3. Cardiomyopathies other than HCM

Mark D. Kittleson, Etienne Côté

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Practical relevance: Although feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) occurs more commonly, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM), arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) and cardiomyopathy – nonspecific phenotype (NCM; formerly unclassified cardiomyopathy) are all recognized in domestic cats. Patient group: Any adult domestic cat, of either sex and of any breed, can be affected. Diagnostics: The non-HCM cardiomyopathies are rarely suspected in subclinically affected cats, so most are first identified when a cat presents with signs of heart failure or systemic thromboembolic disease. The definitive clinical confirmatory test for these other feline cardiomyopathies is echocardiography. Key findings: ‘Cardiomyopathy – nonspecific phenotype’ is a catch-all term that groups hearts with myocardial changes that either do not meet the criteria for any one type of cardiomyopathy (HCM, RCM, DCM, ARVC, LVNC) or meet the echocardiography criteria for more than one type. RCM is characterized by diastolic dysfunction due to fibrosis that results in a restrictive transmitral flow pattern on Doppler echocardiography and usually marked left or biatrial enlargement. DCM is characterized by decreased myocardial contractility and is rare in cats. When it occurs, it is seldom due to taurine deficiency. However, since taurine-deficient DCM is usually reversible, a diet history should be obtained, whole blood and plasma taurine levels should be measured and taurine should be supplemented in the diet if the diet is not commercially manufactured. ARVC should be suspected in adult cats with severe right heart enlargement and right heart failure (ascites and/or pleural effusion), especially if arrhythmia is present. Feline LVNC is rare; its significance continues to be explored. Treatment of the consequences of these cardiomyopathies (management of heart failure, thromboprophylaxis, treatment of systemic arterial thromboembolism) is the same as for HCM. Conclusions: While these other cardiomyopathies are less prevalent than HCM in cats, their clinical and radiographic presentation is often indistinguishable from HCM. Echocardiography is usually the only ante-mortem method to determine which type of cardiomyopathy is present. However, since treatment and prognosis are often similar for the feline cardiomyopathies, distinguishing among the cardiomyopathies is often not essential for determining appropriate therapy. Areas of uncertainty: The feline cardiomyopathies do not always fit into one distinct category. Interrelationships among cardiomyopathies in cats may exist and understanding these relationships in the future might provide critical insights regarding treatment and prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1067
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • dilated cardiomyopathy
  • echocardiography
  • left ventricular noncompaction
  • myocardial diseases
  • restrictive cardiomyopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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