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What is Cardiac Arrest?

This condition can be reversed, but it requires immediate veterinary care to lower the risk of serious complications. Cardiac arrest can become fatal without prompt treatment from a veterinary professional.

Cardiac arrest in cats occurs when regular blood circulation stops, which causes the heart to stop beating. This can happen when cats are unable to breathe normally for several minutes. The respiratory system and cardiovascular system in cats normally work together to ensure regular blood circulation, a normal heart rate, normal breathing and healthy blood pressure levels. When the respiratory system is affected by illness or trauma, oxygen levels in the blood can drop low enough to lead to cardiac arrest. 

Cardiac Arrest Average Cost

From 555 quotes ranging from $800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest in Cats

Cardiac arrest is considered a life-threatening emergency for cats, so it is important for owners to know the symptoms of it. Signs of this condition include:

  • Breathing heavily
  • Showing no response to stimulation
  • Losing consciousness
  • Having pupil dilation
  • Having bluish gums, skin and mucous membranes, which indicates dangerously low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream
  • Having a low body temperature, also known as hypothermia
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Causes of Cardiac Arrest in Cats

Cardiac arrest in cats can occur for a number of reasons. Possible causes of this condition include the following:

  • Oxygen levels in the blood that are too low
  • A low supply of oxygen
  • Heart disease
  • A metabolic disease
  • An electrolyte imbalance
  • Brain injuries
  • Low levels of bodily fluids
  • Blood poisoning from toxic bacteria in the bloodstream
  • Shock from trauma
  • Anesthesia for medical procedures
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Diagnosis of Cardiac Arrest in Cats

A prompt and accurate diagnosis of cardiac arrest in cats is important in order for veterinarians to treat it properly. A diagnosis includes providing a veterinarian with information on the cat’s medical history and details on when symptoms began to appear and what types of symptoms occurred. Owners should also tell a veterinarian any relevant details that might help explain why their cat went into cardiac arrest, such as an injury or possible exposure to toxic substances. This can help veterinarians treat or manage underlying conditions after they have restored cardiac function. Doing so can help stabilize cats and lower the risk of complications. 

Veterinarians typically do a physical exam that includes checking circulation and respiration for any abnormalities. This exam also involves regularly monitoring blood pressure and checking pulse rates. Veterinarians also perform tests to determine what is causing cardiac arrest. Common tests that are used include X-rays of the chest, blood samples to check the levels of oxygen and other gases, echocardiography to check for evidence of heart disease and a complete blood count. Other tests that are often done include a biochemistry profile and urine tests, which help veterinarians find out what might have led to cardiac arrest.

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Treatment of Cardiac Arrest in Cats

Since cardiac arrest in cats is an emergency, prompt veterinary care is required. Owners should bring cats to the nearest veterinary hospital or emergency clinic for treatment. 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Immediate medical care by veterinary professionals involves getting the heart to begin beating again and restoring its natural rhythm, as well as returning the cat’s respiration rate to normal. Veterinarians do this by clearing the airways and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In some cases, veterinarians place a tube down the airways to help keep breathing regular. They might also administer oxygen to restore normal levels of this gas in the bloodstream. Medications that help support regular cardiac function are usually given to cats that are under cardiac arrest. 

Cardiac Massage and Compressions

Another method of restarting the heart involves performing cardiac massage on the chest, which is sometimes required in cats that have heart failure. When this is ineffective, veterinarians might perform chest compressions. These compressions involve pushing down on the chest rapidly to get the heart beating again. 

Open Chest Resuscitation

If cardiac massage and chest compressions are unsuccessful, veterinarians might make incisions in the chest in order to restart the heart. They might also inject medications into the heart to try to restore a heartbeat. 

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Recovery of Cardiac Arrest in Cats

Cardiac arrest in cats has a low recovery rate, although this depends in part on what caused this condition to occur and how soon treatment began. The type of treatment that was used can also have an impact on recovery. For example, cats typically require a longer time to recover after having open chest resuscitation. 

Cats usually have to stay in a veterinary hospital for the first few days after treatment to ensure that their condition stabilizes. During this time, veterinarians frequently check blood pressure, cardiac function and respiratory function. If any complications occur, these are treated promptly to help increase the chance of a successful recovery. Owners should bring their cats in for follow-up visits as often as needed. 

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Cardiac Arrest Average Cost

From 555 quotes ranging from $800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Cardiac Arrest Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Domestic cat

dog-age-icon

Six Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic And Wouldn’T Eat Or Drink

My cat had a urinary blockage. Well they said they unblocked it and he went into cardiac arrest and passed away. They said that they tried to do cpr. If they unblocked it what made him go into cardiac arrest?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, and I am sorry for the loss of your cat. A urinary blockage, if left long enough, can cause fatal elevations in potassium. Potassium can affect the heart by causing an irregular rhythm, and arrest. I'm sure that they did everything they could.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Salem

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mixed

dog-age-icon

2 Months

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Not Moving
Not Breathing
No Heart Beat

What do I do to keep her from having cardiac arrest again? She was completely dead. I gave her CPR and she jumped up and drank some water. Now she's really sleepy and is laying down very limp

July 2, 2018

Salem's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

If Salem at this age appeared to have cardiac arrest, you should visit a Veterinarian for an examination to determine heart health as well as determining whether there is an underlying condition and if any medical management is required. Without examining Salem, I cannot give you any solid answers about a cause or a management plan. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 2, 2018

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Otis

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

1 Month

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Very Skinny
She Couldn’T Meow Very Loud
Very Sleepy Lately

I got home tonight and found my kitten unconscious in her kennel, I left her food and water so she didn’t become dehydrated or hungry... I found her yesterday on the side of the road, she had been there a couple of days I know this because I saw her days prior but couldnt catch her. Once I got home I went straight to her kennel to take her out because she had been in there since 11:30 this morning, and I looked in the kennel and she was laying there unresponsive so I immediately opened the kennel and rubbed her to see if I would wake her up once I realized she wasn’t moving I checked her pulse, it was there but very slow, then I started cpr and tried giving her some air by blowing into her mouth, but it didn’t work and her pupils soon became dilated and her heart beat was no longer there.

June 10, 2018

Otis' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm very sorry that that happened to Otis, that is very sad. Without knowing what happened to her before you were able to catch her, it is hard to say what may have happened to her, but it is nice for her that she was warm and safe for a little while.

June 10, 2018

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Snow Ball

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Persian- Angola

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1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Cyanosis, Throw Up Blood
Breathlessness, Restless

My cat died today at 10:30 which is two days after being spayed. He was Persian- Angola bred! Today morning at 9:00 AM he vomited foams which later tinged with blood and my sister rushed to the vet. I was at the hospital. She said he had feable breathing and got cyanosis. He was also restless and couldn’t let anyone approach him. When they arrived to the vet, they asked what we feed him . We only have him cat food. She said they gave him some shots which seems to be adrenaline ( coz they said it was life-saving drug). And he died on the way home throwing up blood from his mouth and nose. The fact here is there’s no advanced technique to resuscitate him in my town and veterinary is not quite developed in our country so there’s almost nothing to test him about any diseases. I have spayed all of my male Persian cats with the same vet and there were no problems. I just wanted to know which could possibly cause his death so I could be more careful with my other cats.

April 30, 2018

Snow Ball's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what the cause of death was, sometimes there are reactions to anaesthesia but we generally see this during or soon after surgery; adverse reactions to post surgery medications are also a possibility but again I cannot say with any certainty. You should return to your Veterinarian for a necropsy to see if they can determine a cause of death so that you are able to put your mind at rest. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 30, 2018

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Handsome

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Maine Coon mix

dog-age-icon

17 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Head Down + Neck Outstretched
Panting At The End
Tongue Out + Open Mouth At The End
Anxiety From The Car Ride
Gum Cyanosis At Vet'S
Increasing Weakness From O2 Loss
Can'T Catch His Breath
Meowed In Fear/Pain On Car Ride
Meowed In Pain Upon Fall

My cat fell, his throat knocked the floor, then started having trouble breathing. I got him to the vet, but the car ride made him extremely anxious, as always. The vets saw cyanosis in his gums, so gave him a steroid to decrease any swelling, a painkiller and anxiolytic to get his breathing calmed down, and put him in an O2 chamber. They never looked at his neck and only after they called me to him and told me he was "going" and I told the to save him did they intubate for O2. His heart stopped in minutes and they stopped everything. Later the vet said it was good I didn't ask for revival, as his systems had probably shut down anyway. I never said this, never asked them to stop, and I want to know if they could have given him Epi and CPR, kept supplying O2 beyond the blockage he couldn't breath from, let the neck reduce in swelling, and sent him home to live the rest of his life. I think they were negligent and looked at his age + other conditions, not the immediate accident. What do you think were his chances after his heart stopped? He was 17, had a heart murmur, hyperT, high BP -- all very well-controlled -- and a benign tumour near his thyroid that had been growing into his soft palate (I found out the last part about the progressing aspect of the growth only that night). But despite it all, he was alert, playful, loving, mischievous, regular in terms of elimination, and in no pain on a daily basis.

March 14, 2018

Handsome's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Unfortunately this isn’t a question I can answer with any certainty and from a legal point of view I cannot indicate any blame towards another Veterinarian, practice or other professional unless I am certain of the events and have examined the patient(s) in question myself either ante or post mortem. If you believe that there was negligence, you should request a copy of medical records and for Handsome’s body to be sent for necropsy; you should also contact your state (or country’s) Veterinary Board for advice. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 14, 2018

Thank you. He has already been cremated so an autopsy is not possible. But I am not asking for legal reasons, I'm asking just so I can know for myself if he could have been saved, if CPR and O2 would have saved him after that cardiac arrest, and if he would have been returned to the same state of health as before the fall. As an aside, what would you have done if you had been there? Just want to understand why what was done was done. Thank you. Thank you.

March 14, 2018

Handsome's Owner

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Optimus Prime

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Loss Of Appetite
Labored Breathing
Not Bathing
Moan
Little Movement

My 4 year old cat was not eating for a couple of days and i had figured he was throwing a tantrum and wanted more treats like my other 2 cats. He began getting noticeably skinny and losing weight. I came home after 2 weeks of noticing this wanting to make an appt at the vet and saving enough. I found throw up in my room that seemed dried and foamy from the morning and my grandma mentioned she also has throw up her her room. We were able to pinpoint it towards him and found a third episode in a separate room that was just foamy/acidic. He was sitting on all fours near the ground laying down, breathing heavy very visibly. His stomach looked like it was trying very hard to rise up and down. He was grunting every time he took a breath. I called a friend who fosters cats and asked if it should be worrying. She said he might have been choking on his throw up or it went down the wrong “pipe” sort of thing and he may just be overwhelmed from throwing up so much. i believed her but didn’t think he was going to get better over night. I took him into the ER clinic and they admitted him immediately. When i left my house my 2 cats seemed very upset he was leaving which was concerning. They let out meows of concern. Once we arrived, they told us they would run some blood and x-ray him and believed it was his heart. they gave him oxygen and later called and said he had liquid filling in his lungs and that if i didn’t bring him in, he wouldn’t have made it through the night. They said after X-ray and closer examination that he had Grade 3-6 heart failure and fluid build up in his lungs and a heart murmur. Said a lot of fancy terms for it and all i could do was cry for my little one as i had lost my other cat near the same time 3 years ago. I was worried and went home to figure out the next steps and to return in the morning. When i returned in the morning to transfer him, i was told he had suffered cardiac arrest and thankfully i signed the CPR form and they were able to bring him back. They said he was lucky to have been bright back because while doing CPR, he was able to get all liquid out of his lungs and stabilize his breathing. He said he needed to be seen by a vet and put on oxygen and get more lasix. after hours of trying to find some where to take him, we transferred him to a hospital about 20 min away and he was seen and treated. they kept him over night and gave him oxygen and lasix and started with the treatments over night. They said he wanted to be home and was recovering and drinking water. They felt it was best to allow him to return home. It has been 4 days since he has been back and he has been recovering very slowly. He sits in the open areas but right in front of his water bowls and lets his chin rest in it, he walks slowly and very little but makes his way doing things. Has not been bathing him self but has finally began urinating and i’m hoping pooping. He doesn’t meow but has subtle moans to him self and they were quite scary the first 2 nights. He began eating soft wet sticks and soft liquid meals 2 days ago. He hasn’t been hiding very much but we are still concerned with his behavior. My cats either hiss at him and he has no reaction or they follow him around a sleep in the same room as him. He sort of sits and stares at his water with his eyes sort of rolling in. We were told to follow up with a cardiologist and we would know what his chances are from there. I worry because of how young he is and scared he can get easily. I do not want to wake up and find him dead in my house or return from work to him deceased i don’t want to lose Optimus... Any advice would help.

dog-name-icon

Mochi

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My cat died of cardiac arrest. The vet will do a microbiopsy to check if he was poisoned. It was a sudden death. He vomited in the morning and did not eat lunch so we took him to the vet. The vet said he was dehydrated and couldn't do a blood test for him as there was little blood on him. Priority was to put a dextrose. He had cardiac arrest and early in the morning, we lost him. It is very shocking and painful. Prior to that, we lost another kitten the day before, and two cats a week ago. We are still investigating if someone is poisoning them. I feel so numb at the moment.

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PJ

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Heart Rate

Today we brought our cat in for a routine rabies vaccine and a blood draw to check her thyroid. She was completely fine while the vet tech examined her and while the vet did also, she even got very vocal with him and was as feisty as always. The vet brought her out back to draw her blood and it was taking a really long time. Almost 15 minutes later he came back in and told us that she had gone into cardiac arrest while they were trying to do the blood draw. He told me that she was freaking out before they started and that he thought she was just nervous, her heart was racing an extreme amount but he decided to continue and try to draw her blood anyway. Her breathing became abnormal and he thought nothing of it so he continued. Upon continuing, she went limp and her heart stopped. He tried to bring her back through cardiac massage but she didn’t come back. I believe that he caused her death by ignoring the signs of cardiac distress. He even told me that her heart rate was too high but he decided to ignore it. I am at a complete loss and devastated because she was completely fine in the room one minute and then dead the next. I believe the vet is at fault, what’s everyone else’s opinions?

dog-name-icon

Tucker

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Eating Snow

I'm not sure but I think my cat had a heart attack from eating snow. I came in from a snow storm and a lot of snow came in the door I think he ate some and a few minutes later he was eating cat food jumped down and laid down and died. I couldn't feel a heart beat, but now reading some of this I feel really guilty that maybe I may have had time to get him back if I got him to the vet quick enough. I hope I didn't loose my little boy because I didn't get him to the vet quick enough. I brought him right away but I thought he was already gone. I am absolutely heart broken and even more now to think I may have been able to save him.

dog-name-icon

SAMBA

dog-breed-icon

short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

She Would Hide She Stopped Eating Stop Drinking. She Would Hide She Stopped Eating Stop Drinking. Got Her To Eat

It's very hard to talk about it's been 3 months and One Night by cat screams and roll over on his back started had like mucus in his and her mouth was the hardest thing I've ever watched I love you so much it's killing me inside so depressed hurt real bad

Cardiac Arrest Average Cost

From 555 quotes ranging from $800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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