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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 33273
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat has some fluid in her lungs. The Vet heard crackling

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My cat has some fluid in her lungs. The Vet heard crackling sounds. What can it be?
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
How old is your cat, please? Fluid sounds in the lungfields in an older cat often indicate congestive heart failure or malignancy. Asthma should be more of a consideration in a younger cat. It's important to follow up such findings with a three-view series of X-rays which should clarify why those crackling sounds are heard.

Can you tell me, please, if a heart murmur and/or arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) were heard as well? Are there any other worrisome symptoms? An increased respiratory rate or cyanosis (blue-grey mucous membranes of the gums or tongue, e.g.)?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
She's 4 years old and have had regular check ups twice per year and no heart murmur has been detected so far. I have not noticed any symptoms as per your email. Having said that she is a Ragdoll and I know they are prone to heart diseases.
Thank you for the additional information. The next step is having those X-rays taken. If those crackling sounds, indeed, indicate fluid, an alveolar pattern in her lungs will appear on the X-rays. An alveolar pattern resembles patches of cotton in her lungs. An alveolar pattern can be seen with both asthma and congestive heart failure, however, and so it will behoove her vet to differentiate one from another. This can be done by performing an echocardiogram (ultrasound of her heart).

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
How serious is congestive heart failure? Is it treatable or controllable under medication?
That would be predicated upon the etiology of the heart failure. In most cases, I'm going to find a cardiomyopathy - heart muscle disease - and the prognosis for these is always guarded. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is most common. Treatment is controversial. Currently, no therapeutic studies exist demonstrating clinically important outcomes in cats but I do treat the congestive heart failure as I would if found to arise from any cause of heart failure. Diuretics are the mainstay of therapy.

In general, there's a fair to good prognosis for cats with mild nonprogressive HCM. Young male cats and ragdoll cats with marked left ventricular hypertrophy often progress more rapidly and die from their disease, and often die by 4 years of age. When severe HCM and congestive heart failure are present median survival is 3 months although it's highly variable with survival times over 2 years in some cats.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a week for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. She's with the vet now getting blood works and X-ray done. My husband and I are just worried sick. Appreciate you checking back.
I understand. I'll speak to you soon.