Heartworm in Cats

One of the things we all want to do for our cats if provide good healthcare. Cats that spend any time outside are more at risk for contracting illnesses like feline leukemia (FeLV), respiratory diseases (FVR, FCV, FPN) and feline panleukopenia (FPV). Regardless of whether your cat is indoors or outdoors, it is a good idea to make sure to vaccinate against these illnesses and to protect your pet against fleas and ticks.

Did you know that cats can get heartworm too? It is transmitted by one of the world’s tiniest pests, the mosquito, and can afflict both indoor and outdoor cats. The best way to ensure your cat never gets heartworm is through prevention. Discuss the options with your veterinarian to protect your feline family members.

Heartworms are one of the most invasive and serious diseases in felines and are caused by a parasite named dirofilara immitis. While dogs are more susceptible to picking up the illness, it can be equally devastating in cats.

They cycle of heartworm transmittance begins when a mosquito bites and infects a previously infected dog and takes with it the microfilaria (young heartworm larvae) that are circulating in the dog’s blood. In weeks, these larvae mature inside the mosquito and when that insect bites a cat or dog, the larvae attach to the bitten animal’s skin. From there the larvae enter the bloodstream and eventually reach the animal’s heart and lungs.

In less than 8 months, your pet can develop permanent organ damage which can have very serious consequences including death. Even one heartworm (the can measure from 1-11 inches in length) can be fatal. Symptoms of heartworm in cats include coughing, wheezing, rapid breathing, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting. Diagnosis can be difficult because these symptoms are found in many other feline diseases. It is important to note that some cats with heartworm demonstrate no symptoms.

Clinical diagnosis and treatment can be a challenge. There are several types of blood tests that can offer a diagnosis but there isn’t any current, approved treatment for feline heartworm disease.

If your cat is diagnosed with heartworm, your veterinarian may recommend supportive therapy which can include the use of a bronchodilator, oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids. If your cat survives heartworm, she will harbor the parasite for 2-3 years.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, prevention is your best resource in protecting your cat from heartworm.

Visit this link for more information on heartworm in cats.http://www.cat-world.com.au/heartworm-in-cats

Heartworm in Cats

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Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society