Of all the illnesses we vaccinate your cat against, heartworm disease is not one of them. While it’s true that felines are considered resistant to the growing worms, both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for developing heartworm disease. Limiting exposure and taking a preventive approach are the best weapons to defend against heartworm in cats.
A Proactive Approach
Commonly viewed as a disease that only affects dogs, heartworm in cats occurs nationwide, causing painful symptoms and early mortality. Because of this (and to avoid emergency care), we advise routine screening and monthly preventive medication to protect your cat.
Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitoes, which are at their worst May through September. Although you might be tempted to suspend taking a preventive in the winter, the life cycle of heartworms can take up to 6 months, so it’s important to keep your pet on his or her monthly medication.
If an infected mosquito bites a cat who isn’t on a monthly preventive, heartworm larvae move into the blood, connective tissue, and then finally burrow into the heart and lungs. Most heartworms are flushed out by a cat’s immune system, but some can be left behind. These organisms will mature, causing irreparable damage inside your cat.
Heartworms cause severe inflammation, which leads to Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). These are the symptoms to look for:
- Breathing problems
- Rapid heart rate
- Weight loss
It’s not unusual for cats to live a long time without presenting any symptoms. However, others can collapse from heart or lung failure or die suddenly from heartworm disease. If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately.
Learn More About Heartworm in Cats
Symptoms of heartworm in cats can be hard to detect or owners might mistake a persistent cough for asthma. Once diagnosed, there is no approved method to treat heartworm in cats. Thus, prevention should be every feline owner’s number one goal.
Parasites all Around
Protecting your pet from all parasites, including fleas and ticks, should be a year round endeavor. Since mosquitoes are the harbingers of heartworm in cats and dogs, try to eliminate breeding zones (standing water), keep window screens in tact, and keep your pet on a 12-month preventive.
We know you love your precious feline friend, and protecting him or her from heartworm disease is just one more way to show your adoration. At Godspeed Animal Care, our team is always happy to help. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.