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You've just brought your healthy kitten to visit the veterinary office for her annual exam and vaccine updates. Now the vet is telling you she hears a heart murmur. How concerned should you be?

What Does That Murmur Mean?

Kitten with Muddy Creek Animal Care VeterinarianA murmur is simply a sound that tells the listener that something is causing turbulence of the blood flow as it travels through the heart.

Normally, the blood should move from chamber to chamber, and out of the heart valves, as smoothly as water running through a pipe. If something causes a partial blockage, if there's a leak in the system, or even if the liquid isn't being propelled efficiently, turbulence will result in the sloshing sounds we refer to as "murmurs" when we speak of heart function.

In kittens and young cats, congenital irregularities of the heart can cause these sloshing sounds. The majority of these are "innocent" murmurs that will resolve as the patient grows and its heart matures.

Persistent or loud murmurs, however, can be secondary to more severe defects and should be investigated if accompanied by any weakness, pallor, shortness of breath, failure to grow or thrive, or if they persist until the time the pet is due to be spayed or neutered.