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FIP’s – Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Heart murmurs in kittens younger then eight weeks is relatively common. They will often display a type one murmur, the mildest of murmur’s, because their heart is still developing. Perhaps we should have a look at what exactly a murmur is.
A murmur is a sound best described as a “shhh.” It’s usually only heard with a stethoscope and is caused by turbulence in the flow of blood. Each beat of the heart pushes blood through all the vessels. And if the flow is uninterrupted, it is very quiet. But if there is a narrowing of a blood vessel, or if a valve in the heart is a little leaky, some of the blood will swirl or tumble, becoming turbulent as it makes it way through the circulation. This turbulence makes a noise and is what we call a murmur.
It is common for young mammals of all types, humans included, to exhibit mild heart murmurs up to a certain age. The valves in their hearts are not fully developed yet and almost all of them will grow out of a type 1 heart murmur fairly quickly. For cats it is generally gone by eight weeks.
In some cases the murmur will last beyond the normal period and will likely be permanent and that sometimes causes a bit of panic. The simple facts are that heart murmurs can be caused by several different abnormalities and some of these are insignificant. That is to say they don’t lead to congestive heart failure, a shortened life expectancy or impact the cat in any noticable way. A type 1 murmur generally falls into that category.
Veterinarians generally grade heart murmurs on a subjective scale of 1 to 6. A grade 1 murmur is often deemed insignificant or innocent if there are no other compounding factors. A grade 6 is the most severe and is expected to significantly impact the animals life.
So we have had one kitten to date that has had a murmur last beyond the eight week period and it has resulted in us changing when we start taking deposits and when we schedule vet visits but beyond that it is not expected to impact anything, including the kitten with the murmur.