Understanding Aortic Thromboembolism in Cats

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Aortic Thromboembolism (ATE) in cats is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention and treatment. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricate details of ATE, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis.

What is Aortic Thromboembolism?

Aortic Thromboembolism occurs when a blood clot forms in the heart and then travels through the bloodstream, eventually becoming lodged in a major artery. In cats, the most common site for these clots to become lodged is the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Once lodged, the clot obstructs blood flow to the hind limbs, leading to severe pain and potential paralysis.

Causes of Aortic Thromboembolism

ATE in cats is often associated with underlying heart disease, particularly hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Cats with HCM are at an increased risk of developing blood clots due to alterations in blood flow and the structure of the heart. Other predisposing factors for ATE include hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, and certain inflammatory conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of Aortic Thromboembolism in cats can be dramatic and distressing. Affected cats typically experience sudden onset hind limb paralysis, often described as being unable to use their rear legs. The hind limbs may also feel cold to the touch due to poor blood circulation. Additionally, affected cats may exhibit signs of pain, vocalization, and distress.


Diagnosing Aortic Thromboembolism in cats often involves a combination of physical examination, medical history review, and diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian may perform a thorough physical examination, including assessing the cat's pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure. Diagnostic tests such as echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) and blood tests may also be utilized to confirm the diagnosis and assess the underlying cause.

Treatment Options

Treatment for Aortic Thromboembolism in cats aims to stabilize the patient, relieve pain, and prevent further clot formation. This often involves a multi-faceted approach, including:

1. Pain Management: Administering pain medications to alleviate discomfort and distress.

2. Blood Thinners: Anticoagulant medications such as aspirin or clopidogrel may be prescribed to prevent further clot formation.

3. Heart Disease Management: Treating underlying heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to reduce the risk of future clot formation.

4. Supportive Care: Providing supportive care, including fluid therapy and physical therapy, to improve the cat's overall condition and mobility.


The prognosis for cats with Aortic Thromboembolism varies depending on the severity of the condition, the underlying cause, and the promptness of treatment. While some cats may experience partial or full recovery with appropriate management, others may suffer long-term complications or recurrence of clots. Close monitoring and regular follow-up with your veterinarian are essential for optimizing the cat's quality of life.

In conclusion, Aortic Thromboembolism is a serious and challenging condition in cats that requires prompt recognition and intervention. By understanding the causes, signs, diagnosis, and treatment options for ATE, cat owners can better advocate for their feline companions' health and well-being.

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