Case Study – Loki the Sphynx and HCM

By: Sara Beth Bordelon, DVM, MS, Diplomate, ACVIM (Cardiology)

Loki is a cute two-year-old Sphynx cat who lives with one of our awesome CVCA team members. The good news is that Loki is feeling great right now! He is active, loving, and loves to ride around the house on his Mom’s shoulders and snuggle in his little sleep sac. 

Loki was last seen for a heart check up by Dr. Bordelon at our Northwest Austin location inside Austin Veterinary Emergency and Referral. She did an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) and found thickening of his heart muscle.  Loki’s heart started out normal, but he has a disease from his genes that makes his heart muscle become thicker over time. This disease is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In many cases of HCM, cats seem normal until they get fluid backing up in their lungs. Once that happens, they have congestive heart failure.  

 HCM is a disease that worsens over time. Cats progress at different rates based on their specific type of gene problem. Sphynx cats get HCM at a younger age than other breeds of cats. Recently, Dr. Kathryn Meurs at North Carolina State University found one of the exact gene problems for this condition in Sphynx cats.  Clear testing and breeding guidelines are important with conditions like HCM to decrease the number of kittens born with this problem.

Although we cannot stop Loki’s heart disease from getting worse as he ages, we can help to manage the disease. We use medicine also used in people to lower the risk for blood clots and help improve blood flow through the heart.  We may add medicine over time to reduce fluid build up if that happens in the later stage of the disease. Luckily, Loki does not have any fluid building up anywhere at his young age. Loki is living a normal life and only has to take one pill a day to lower his chance of getting a blood clot.  We will continue to help Loki and our other CVCA cat patients have the best quality of life for as long as possible.

Ultrasound image showing Loki’s thickened left heart muscle. The black space shaped like a mushroom is the blood and the grey is the heart muscle.
Loki doing what he does best, snuggling!