I HAVE often written in these pages that when it comes to medical problems cats cannot just be treated like “small dogs”. Although cats and dogs do get some diseases in common, cats can also present illnesses very differently to dogs.

Cats are very good at hiding symptoms – in part this is because of their lifestyle. Whereas dogs tend to have a relatively structured routine that is linked to owner involvement (such as jumping into the car and going for daily walks) cats tend to be a law unto themselves. Hence the fact that cats can be good at hiding illness – if your dog normally goes for a certain length walk every day and then suddenly starts to slow you would see this as a warning bell and seek veterinary advice. But if your cat does not feel like walking so far you may never know – they may be covering one back garden instead of ten on their daily prowling but you would be none the wiser. Hence certain heart problems can come on very subtlety in cats and are often not picked up until we see cats for a check-up.

Even once we pick something up at a routine check, cats are not as straight forward as dogs in terms of interpreting what we hear when we listen to their hearts. A heart murmur in a cat can mean a whole range of things – from no issue at all to a serious problem. That is why these days we increasingly recommend heart scan in cats where we pick up an issue at a routine check – that way we can know more about a condition and what we need to do to treat it.

n Alice Moore is a vet at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth. Tel 01305267083