Heartworms and Cats
You know that your dog can get heartworms from mosquitoes, but did you know your cat can as well?
Heartworms affect cats differently than dogs, but the disease they cause is equally serious. In cats, it is generally a lung disease and can be caused by just one parasites being present. Symptoms such as asthma-like respiratory syndrome, chronic intermittent vomiting, even sudden death, are most commonly associated with an acute inflammatory response to larval molting or death of a heartworm.
In cats, the name "heartworm disease"; is a misnomer, as the disease mostly affects the lungs and not just the heart. Signs are often mistaken for feline asthma, allergic bronchitis or other respiratory diseases. Once an adult worm dies, after 1-2 years, there is an additional intense inflammatory reaction resulting in acute lung injury.
It only takes one mosquito to infect a cat, and because mosquitoes can get indoors, both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk and should receive heartworm preventive medication. In a North Carolina study, 28 percent of the cats diagnosed with heartworms were inside-only cats.
Testing is not performed routinely due to testing limitations, but may have value diagnostically. Severe disease may be present with small and undetectable numbers (1-3) of worms present, and is most frequently due to larval forms rather than adults.
It's easy to protect your cat. Monthly, year round application of Revolution for Cats is recommended for all feline patients. It protects your cat from fleas, heartworms, ear mites, hookworm (Anycylostoma tubaeforme) and roundworm (Toxocara cati ). (NOTE: Indoor only confinement and/or mosquito repellents are NOT adequate to reliably prevent heartworm infestation!)