Heartworms represent an increasingly recognised problem in cats.
As in dogs, heartworms are transmitted to your pet by feeding mosquitoes and, once mature, end up in the right side of the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. For cats, the likelihood of heartworm infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area.
Infection rates in cats are lower than in dogs, because mosquitoes can transmit the disease, being an indoor-only cat does not prevent a cat from getting infected. Signs of heartworm infection in cats can vary in severity from asymptomatic to sudden death.
How will heartworms affect my cat?
The heartworm larvae, which enter the cat's bloodstream after it is bitten by an infected mosquito, eventually migrate to the heart or blood vessels of the lungs. Here the larvae cause a severe reaction, resulting in lack of oxygen exchange and cough.
Signs of infection vary but most often are related to the respiratory system.
Symptoms to be cautious of vary but keep an eye out for; coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, lethargy or weight loss. While some cats will have very mild signs, others can develop signs of congestive heart failure. Some cats will suffer from sudden death as a result of the death of one or more worms.
How do I prevent my cat from getting heartworms?
Cats who have had no preventative are at risk, even those animals that live indoors. However, heartworms are preventable.
Speak to your Just For Pets retailer about heartworm prevention for your cat.
Preventive treatment should only begin after a blood test has been conducted by your local Vet to ensure your dog or cat has not already been exposed or is infected.
Can humans contract the disease?
Heartworm is generally not considered a risk to human health and transmission from your cat directly to you is not possible.
Did you know?
- While heartworms are more common in dogs than in cats, cats can get heartworms too
- Cats get infected by being bitten by a mosquito that has bitten an infected dog
- Serious illness and even death can occur when a cat is infected with heartworms