Treatment for Cats with Saddle Thrombus

feline arterial thromboembolism or saddle thrombus in cats

A blood clot causes a saddle thrombus, which is a sudden and dangerous ailment. If this happens to your cat, it might result in extreme discomfort, difficulty breathing, and paralysis of the hind limbs. Unfortunately, many cats will die as a result of a saddle thrombus. Early discovery and treatment, on the other hand, can improve the chances of recovery.

What is Saddle Thrombus in Cats?

When a blood clot forms at the base of the aorta, where two big arteries branch out to each back leg, it is known as a saddle thrombus. Feline arterial thromboembolism or feline aortic thromboembolism are terms used to describe this illness.

The aorta is the major artery that transports oxygenated blood from the heart's left ventricle to the rest of the body, including the limbs. Because of its form, the area where the arteries branch out to the back legs is known as the "saddle."

A big blood clot that develops in a blood artery or the heart is referred to as a "thrombus." A tiny clot that breaks off from a thrombus and lodges in an artery is called a "embolus." These situations are referred to as "thromboembolism," which is the blockage of blood flow caused by a blood clot embolism.

When a blood clot forms in the heart, a portion of the clot breaks off and becomes trapped in an artery, blocking blood flow. Clot blockage is frequent in the saddle region. A saddle thrombus is a painful condition that affects the back of the body and interrupts circulation. This is a life-threatening emergency circumstance.

Symptoms of Saddle Thrombus in Cats

Signs of Saddle Thrombus in Cats

  • Sudden pain, often with vocalization
  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Acute paralysis or partial paralysis of one or both rear limbs
  • One or both rear limbs is cooler than front limbs
  • Rear paw pads that appear blue, gray, or pale


Feline arterial thromboembolism strikes suddenly, producing intense discomfort, irregular breathing, and paralysis or paresis of the hind limbs (partial paralysis). Owners frequently notice abrupt vocalization and heavy breathing, as well as a difficulty to effectively move the rear limbs. It can appear that the cat has a fractured back. If you look closer, you'll see that the paw pads are pale or bluish-gray in color and feel frigid to the touch.

Bring your cat to the nearest open veterinarian if you notice any of these signs or any other sudden or serious .

Causes of Saddle Thrombus in Cats

A blood clot that forms in the atrium of the heart causes a saddle thrombus. The majority of cats with arterial thromboembolism have underlying cardiac disease.

The most prevalent form of cardiac ailment found in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is the most common cause of a saddle thrombus. HCM causes the heart muscle walls to thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood adequately.

Other cardiomyopathies, congenital heart disease, , and cancer may predispose a cat to arterial thromboembolism.

In rare cases, the underlying cause for the saddle thrombus cannot be determined.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical exam features typically allow veterinarians to establish an initial diagnosis of saddle thrombus. Cats with respiratory problems will require oxygen treatment and will be placed in an oxygen cage right once. To provide respite to the cat, pain medication is usually given as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian will go through the preliminary results with you and discuss your cat's prognosis at this time. Your veterinarian will review your cat's present condition and assist you in deciding whether or not therapy should be maintained.

Treatment for feline arterial thromboembolism might be tricky. Unfortunately, saddle thrombus has a dismal prognosis, particularly when the symptoms are severe (low rectal , slow heart rate, total loss of motor function). Furthermore, cats that already have cardiac disease have a significant risk of it reoccurring. Sometimes the most compassionate alternative is euthanasia.

The cat will be brought to the hospital for intensive monitoring and nursing care if the therapy is prolonged. With ongoing pain medication, symptomatic treatment, and, if required, oxygen therapy, the veterinary team will try to stabilize the cat.

The vet will try to detect and treat underlying cardiac issues once the cat is stable enough for additional tests. To view the heart, an echocardiography will be required. Chest X-rays (thoracic radiography) may also be taken. At this stage, cardiac medications may be begun.

Organ function, electrolyte levels, blood cell analysis, and blood coagulation function will all be tested in the lab. Cats with electrolyte abnormalities or dehydration may require intravenous fluid treatment. In cats with cardiac illness, this must be done with extreme caution.

Antithrombotic (anti-clotting) medicines like clopidogrel or aspirin are commonly used to help cats recover from arterial thromboembolism. These drugs can help prevent clots from developing in the future. The departing clot may be resorbed, and the cat's leg function may be restored. However, there's a good chance that additional blood clots will form in the next weeks or months.

In the hospital, cats are closely observed for many days. Physiotherapy and passive manipulation of the afflicted limbs may be used to minimize muscular contraction and avoid limb deformity. Cats that make it until release are usually given drugs and instructions for at-home physiotherapy.

How to Prevent Saddle Thrombus in Cats

Detecting and treating heart disease in cats is the best method to prevent feline arterial thromboembolism. Your veterinarian can notice a or other indicators of heart disease during routine and treat your cat before something bad happens. Unfortunately, in cats, a saddle thrombus is frequently the earliest symptom of cardiac disease. Before the incident, the cat may have appeared to be in perfect health, with normal heart sounds upon physical examination.

A cardiologist can do a thorough cardiac workup, which includes an echocardiography, if you are worried about your cat's risk of heart disease. However, this is an expensive procedure that few owners choose to do unless cardiac trouble is already diagnosed. Find a veterinary cardiologist near you by speaking with your doctor.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

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