Congenital Heart Defects Average Cost

From 333 quotes ranging from $1,000 - 5,000

Average Cost


Jump to Section

What are Congenital Heart Defects?

Feline congenital heart defects are not often diagnosed until later in life. However, kittens can show symptoms shortly after birth although it is rare. Congenital heart defects are problems within the structure of the heart that develop while the cat is still in the womb.

Cats can have heart problems that are not due to infection, disease or trauma. Some cats are born with heart issues that can cause them to have poor health. 

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects in Cats

Congenital heart defects in felines are often characterized by specific symptoms. Below are some of the most common symptoms affecting domestic cats.

  • Chronic coughing
  • Distended abdomen
  • Fluid build-up in the stomach
  • Bluish-tinted skin
  • Inability to exert themselves during exercise
  • Losing consciousness
  • Labored breathing



There are several types of congenital heart defects seen in cats. It is often difficult to diagnose them because they present a similar set of symptoms. Here are some types of heart defects that can be present at birth:

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Atrial Septal Defect
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Mitral and Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
  • Cor Triatriatum Sinister
  • Endocardial Fibroelastosis

Causes of Congenital Heart Defects in Cats

Congenital heart defects in cats occur in the womb. These conditions are considered rare. According to the Merck Manual Pet Health Addition, congenital heart defects are seen in less than 1 percent of the feline population. While in many cases there are no known causes, there are some things that are believed to cause these defects to occur. Some of these causes are:

  • Genetics
  • Chemical ingestion or poisoning in the mother
  • Malnutrition of the mother
  • Medications taken by the mother during pregnancy

Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Defects in Cats

Veterinarians use a variety of methods to diagnose a congenital heart defect in cats. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history from you before examining your cat. In order for him to have an accurate picture you should include any information you have regarding the pregnancy of the mother, birth history and any symptoms you have seen in your cat for the last several months. It is important to include the date of onset as well. After taking a medical history, your veterinarian will perform an examination. He will observe your cat’s gait, motor skills and overall behavior.

Certain laboratory tests will help your doctor obtain an accurate diagnosis. The technician will take a blood sample from your cat and send it away for testing. A CBC, or complete blood count, will detect infection and your doctor may also look for signs of thyroid or diabetic conditions. A urine sample will also be taken to look for signs of infection. 

Diagnostic tests such as X-rays are performed to detect structural defects in the heart. These are usually done in-house. Advanced tests may require a referral to a specialty veterinary clinic. An electrocardiogram is often used to view defects in the vessels of the heart. An echocardiogram may give information such as dilation of heart ventricles. CT scans can give veterinarians a more detailed view than X-rays of the heart and lungs. This test can be performed with contrast dye to provide even more information. An MRI can also give veterinarians more information regarding the structure of the heart, valves, and ventricles than other imaging tests. 

Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects in Cats

The treatment of congenital heart defects in cats depends on the cause of the condition. Mild symptoms may require no treatment at all. Kittens may have a mild heart murmur that is known as an innocent murmur in the veterinary world. This means that while the doctor can detect a murmur, it will not affect the health of the cat at present or in the future. In older cats, the treatment may consist of keeping the cat as comfortable as possible with lifestyle changes, special diets and medications. Surgery to correct structural defects of the heart is not often recommended for cats over 10 years of age. 

In young cats or kittens, doctors may recommend surgery to repair congenital defects that cause structural abnormalities. Some of types of surgeries performed on cats include cardiopulmonary bypass, surgery to repair chambers of the heart, and aortic repair. 

In younger cats, medications such as diuretics, digoxin and vasodilators may be prescribed to help control symptoms. Some conditions such as mitral valve problems are not well controlled with medications.

Recovery of Congenital Heart Defects in Cats

The recovery period of congenital heart defects in cats is dependent upon the diagnosis and treatment plan. Not all congenital heart defects in felines are severe enough to require surgery. Some can be managed with attention to exercise restriction and medications. In cats that require surgery, the recovery period varies according to the type of surgery performed and the age of the cat. No matter what the diagnosis or treatment, the recovery and overall health of the cat is best accomplished by adhering to the advice of your veterinarian.

Congenital Heart Defects Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Domestic shorthair
4 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Heart Murmur

Hi, I rescued a little kitten who has a Grade 6 heart murmur. She is multiple generations of inbreeding. She is active and shows no signs of exercise intolerance, no coughing or other symptoms. I am trying to save to take her to a specialist but I don’t know when that will be. I know it’s hard to say without an exact diagnosis but what is the chance she will live a normal lifespan?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King DVM
1611 Recommendations
With that degree of heart disease, it seems very unlikely that Munchie will live a normal lifespan. Seeing the cardiologist will help give you more answers, as they'll be able to ultrasound her heart and let you know more what to expect and what can be done. I would say at this point, enjoy every moment with her, and give her the best life that you can.

Add a comment to Munchie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Oriental havana
6 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My cat has coughed since a kitten thought it was hairball .took vet vet says could be asthma. Put her on steroids. The cough is under control now after 2months on one every other day . The minute I try and lower it to half a tablet she starts coughing again ..any idea ? Vet wants to x-ray,camera and fluid round her lungs test

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Possible reasons for this coughing could be asthma, heart disease, fungal or bacterial lung disease, a mass or a congenital abnormality. In order to properly diagnose what might be going on and treat Tilly's condition, X-rays would be necessary. Your vet will be able to perform the necessary tests and get a better idea as to why she is coughing and how best to treat the coughing. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Add a comment to Tilly's experience

Was this experience helpful?

short haired
3 Months
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

is it possible that one kitten is not affected by congenital heart defect that his sibilings have? can a 3 month old kitten undergo surgery if proven having the same defect?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Tisoy. I'm not sure what kind of heart defect you are referring to, as any part of the heart can have a defect, and it is possible for only one kitten or many kittens in a litter to be affected. If the heart defect is surgically correctable and needs to be repaired at an early age, qualified surgeons can repair the heart of a 3 month old kitten, if the kitten is stable and able to undergo the surgery otherwise. If you are considering having corrective surgery for your kitten, it would be best to talk with your veterinarian about risks and benefits, since they have examined him and know what type of defect that he has.

Add a comment to tisoy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Russian Blue Rescue
3 Years
Has Symptoms
3 yr old cat has murmur. the number was 3.3 2 yrs ago. the vet says its more prominent now but she didnt tell me the number. my cat is not showing any signs at all. she said she wants to do 3 tests to see the cause of it. cost at least $1000 plus tax. she said blood work, x ray and ultrasound. does he really need all these tests to see the reason why he has it? im thinking he was born with it.