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Heartworm Disease in Cats

Cat on couch

Although heartworm disease is mostly detected in dogs, our feline friends can also be affected by it. Fortunately for cats, their bodies are not a natural host for the larvae to grow. Therefore, the worms tend to find it difficult to thrive in their little bodies. Keep in mind that once infected, heartworm disease is harder to detect in cats, and both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk. 

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Cats?

Not all cats will showcase symptoms, in some cases cats are able to get rid of heartworms without having shown any symptoms at all. Sadly, some infected cats may die suddenly without their owner ever knowing they had heartworm disease. When symptoms do arise, those can mimic other cat disease symptoms making it difficult for the owner to detect. Those symptoms include vomiting, decreased activity, and loss of appetite. 

If your cat does show signs of infection, they will be at two points in the disease. First when the immature heartworm arrives in the arteries of the heart and lungs, and secondly when the adult heartworm dies. Heartworms will first arrive in the heart and lungs 3-4 months after a mosquito bite. Many of these heartworms will die, causing a strong inflammatory reaction in the cats’ lungs. This reaction is called HARD, heartworm associated respiratory disease, its symptoms are very similar to feline asthma and bronchitis. The death of heartworms in the cat’s body is detrimental to their health, even the death of one worm can be fatal for your cat. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats–the best we can do is manage the symptoms with medicine. 

Preventative Medicine is the Best Treatment

The best treatment plan involves preventing this disease from ever infecting your cat. Preventative treatment in cats is like that in dogs with oral tablets and topical medication that are given monthly and require your veterinarian’s prescription. Remember it is important to get your cat tested before starting any preventative medicine. Talk to your veterinarian today to learn more about the ways you can protect your cat.