Did you know that cats can get heartworm disease just like dogs? In a large study in Texas, 26% of cats had positive heartworm tests and adult worms were present in 10% of these cats. The parasite that causes heartworm disease in both dog and cats is called Dirofilaria immitis. Cats, like dogs, can become infected with microscopic heartworm larvae when a mosquito carrying the larvae bites your cat. Mosquitoes become infected from unprotected dogs, foxes, coyotes and wolves (abundant in central Ohio); these canines are a source of the heartworm disease-causing parasite that is transmitted to pets. The heartworm larvae enter the cat’s bloodstream and migrate to the heart and lungs where it causes inflammation leading to the common clinical signs associated with heartworm disease in cats, called Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). The most common signs are coughing, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, fainting, wheezing and sudden death. These signs are often mistaken for feline asthma, allergic bronchitis or other respiratory diseases. We currently use a blood test to help diagnosis heartworm in cats but they do not always produce clear answers and are not always accurate. A positive test is always positive but a negative test does not mean that cat does not have heartworm disease. So, ultrasound and x-rays are used to help with diagnosis.
There is no available FDA approved treatment for HARD in cats even though there is for dogs. The biggest myth is that your indoor cat is safe because it does not go outside. In a recent study in North Carolina, 28% of the cats diagnosed with heartworm disease were inside-only cats. It only takes one mosquito to bite and infect your cat.
Luckily, FeederCreek Veterinary Services recommends regular preventive medication like Revolution, heartworm disease is easily prevented. With monthly application of Revolution you can control fleas, heartworm, intestinal parasites such as Hookworms and Roundworms, and ear mites. So why not prevent your healthy cat from becoming infected with heartworms and apply year round Revolution to your cat today?
Dr. Jonathan A. Yardley
FeederCreek Veterinary Services
12575 Millersport Rd
Millersport, Ohio 430147