The Perfect Guide to Saddle Thrombus In Cat

Saddle thrombus is a condition that most cats will develop at some point in their lives. It is a blood clot that forms in the saddle area of the cat’s back, and can often be fatal if not treated quickly. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about saddle thrombus and how to prevent it from happening in the first place. We’ll also provide tips on how to treat saddle thrombus in cat if it does occur, and explain the risks and benefits of different treatments. So read on, and keep your cat safe from saddle thrombus!

The patient, a 10 year old domestic male neutered cat, was presented with a rapidly developing lameness of the rear legs, extreme pain, hyperventilation and vocalization.  Since the onset was spontaneous, unexpected and without any environmental stress or injury and since the cat’s owners indicated that there was no injury or stress to the spinal column, a tentative diagnosis of Saddle Thrombus in the cat’s descending aorta was made.  

Saddle Thrombus In Cat

Examination revealed a patient in extreme distress with rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, poor support ability in the rear legs and a lack of a femoral pulse in either rear leg.  The onset of signs began thirty minutes prior to presentation.  A diagnosis of AORTIC SADDLE THROMBOSIS was made and the extreme nature and severity of the situation was discussed quickly with the owners.  Since the onset of signs was so recent and the owners were intent on helping A Saddle Thrombus In A Cattheir cat as much as possible, the patient was immediately anesthetized and surgery was begun to remove the clot.  

The prognosis with these patients is very guarded due to the fact that there can be permanent muscle and nerve damage due to ischemia (lack of blood flow).  Every case is different… some extreme cases will display clots extending from the heart and continuing the entire length of the aorta.  Obviously, these cases seldom end successfully.  In this patient’s case the quick presentation to surgery played a role in improving the cat’s chance for success with the saddle thrombus surgery. The belief is that these clots form in the left atrium of the cat and are most common in cats that have preexisting cardiac pathology such as an enlarged heart, cardiomyopathy of the heart walls or valvular disorders.  When the thrombus breaks loose from the left auricle of the heart it is sent to and then ejected from the left ventricle and then down the aorta where the thrombus lodges at the branching anatomy of the femoral arteries.

This patient received anti-coagulant, corticosteroids, i.v. fluids and an antibiotic as soon as the i.v. line was inserted.  It was anesthetized with an injectable anesthetic and maintained through an endotracheal tube on Isoflurane gas anesthetic.

The photos below were taken during the surgery which lasted about 45 minutes.  Post operative medications were continued and pain suppressants administered.  The day after the surgery the cat was comfortable, eating and drinking and was purring when attended.  It was able to support weight on both rear legs and was able to walk and was interested in its surroundings.  Anticoagulation therapy will be given life-long in an attempt to prevent additional clotting episodes.  This patient has hyperthyroidism, which may have affected the heart muscle, but has been treated for hyperthyroidism and has responded well to therapy for over a year.  The hyperthyroidism may be a predisposing factor with this patient.

NOTE:  Many veterinarians believe these patients, when presented, should be euthanized immediately to alleviate the cat’s extreme panic and pain.  Furthermore, it is believed that the survival rate for these patients is very low and that surgery will be unsuccessful.  This approach may be indicated for cats that display a saddle thrombus signs for extended periods or where the patient is in poor physical condition from other pathology.  In this case, however, the time of onset was just minutes prior to a diagnosis being made and the veterinarian and the cat’s owners agreed that an attempt to save the kitty’s life made more sense than simply giving up.  A euthanized cat has zero chance for recovery.  Perhaps more of these cases should be given at least a chance for recovery rather than immediate euthanasia.  Each case should be evaluated on an individual basis since no two cases of Saddle Thrombus are alike.

The cause of aortic thromboembolism in the cat is thought to be due to slowly circulating blood in what is called the auricular appendage of the left atrium of the heart.  This blind end allows stasis of blood and eventual clot formation.  If a large clot dislodges it often will be trapped far down the aorta at the branching of the vessel into the femoral arteries.  The longer the thrombus obstructs the blood flow the more tissue damage occurs.  Immediate surgery may be very beneficial, as in the case presented here.  The longer the patient suffers with oxygen deprivation of the tissues nourished by the femoral arteries the less beneficial surgery becomes.  These clots may develop again in the future so most cats surviving an episode of Saddle Thrombus do best if placed on long term anticoagulation therapy.

If you have been looking for a systematic guide on how to treat saddle thrombus in cats, keep reading. We have come up with a step-byBlog that will tell you all the information you need. Keep an eye out for this new post because it doesn’t contain any guesswork and only provides reliable advice.

Have you ever faced such situation before? Share your experience below!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you prevent saddle thrombosis in cats?

The easiest approach to avoid a saddle thrombus is to make sure your cat has routine checkups from your veterinarian. This will guarantee that your veterinarian detects any emerging issues, like as heart disease, before they result in a clot. A complete health check for your cat can be performed at the time of the booster vaccination appointment.

Is saddle thrombus in cats hereditary?

Cats are more likely than dogs to experience aortic thromboembolism, or saddle thrombus, which is thought to be inherited.

Why do cats get saddle thrombus?

Cats with heart illness, notably hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, are more likely to develop saddle thrombi or aortic thromboembolism (HCM). Severe HCM in cats frequently results in an enlarged or dilated left atrium.

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