Sincere Facts for Baffled Owners

A cat's rapid decline and sudden death may be related to a heart condition.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM

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 Q. My 9-year-old Siamese seemed fine yesterday morning. He has no history of illness.

Around dinnertime I noticed a little puddle of vomit. Over the next few hours, he cried a lot and tried to vomit again. We have no emergency vet clinic nearby, but I planned to take him to our vet first thing in the morning. Around 11 p.m., he began breathing funny. He died sometime in the morning, around 3 a.m.

He was an indoor cat who never went outside. My daughter thought it might be a twisted intestine. Is that a possibility?

A. I am so very sorry for your loss and you have my sincere condolences. I highly doubt that your kitty had a twisted intestine because this condition is rare in cats. Still, an intestinal strangulation secondary to a hernia is a possibility. Cats with acute intestinal problems are less likely than dogs to vomit. On the other hand, cats with thoracic (chest) problems are very likely to vomit. We do not know why this is true, but it is certainly in keeping with the general rule that cats like to do everything their own way.

It is also more likely that a problem in your kittys chest led to a rapid decline and death. Certain heart conditions and also some spontaneous diseases (such as feline infectious peritonitis or a chylothorax) seem to be tolerated by kitties until they reach a critical point at which the cat really decompensates quickly. In either case, these cats can be difficult to save even if they make it to a clinic in time.

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Reader Comments

janet    bethlehem, PA

4/16/2008 6:39:28 AM

how very sad

lisa    Seabrook, TX

2/29/2008 8:44:47 AM

That scares me, I make sure I live by a emergency vet. We need more emergency vets in the US.

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