Many pet owners would tell you that only dogs have to worry about heartworms. Cases of cats being infected with heartworms are rare occurrences. However, feline heartworm infection is growing considerably greater in cats living in geographical heartworm hot spots. Anyplace where mosquitoes are thriving is considered a heartworm hot spot. Learning more about how you can protect your cat from heartworms is important.
What Do Mosquitoes Have To Do With Heartworms?
Mosquitoes carry the infectious larvae responsible for heartworm infection and disease. If a mosquito has bitten your neighbor’s dog and the dog has heartworms, the heartworm larvae in the dog’s blood are transmitted into the mosquito. If your cat gets bitten by the same mosquito, he or she becomes infected with heart larvae as well. Remember that indoor cats can also get bitten by mosquitoes coming into the home.
What are the Symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease?
If your cat is wheezing or has spells of coughing, you could be seeing some of the symptoms commonly associated with feline heartworm infection. In some cats, heartworm infections can turn quickly into congestive heart failure, so visiting your veterinarian about any respiratory symptoms is vital to your cat’s well being. Visiting an animal hospital with your cat is important if you suspect he or she has heartworm infection.
Heartworm Larvae Create Harmful Inflammation Fast
For cats, one adult heartworm can be a silent killer. Mature heartworms resemble long spaghetti noodles and live inside the blood vessels while making their way to the heart or lungs. The inflammation caused by the larvae and their maturation can have devastating consequences for blood vessels, lungs and the heart (in dogs). Cats generally show signs of respiratory issues when affected by heartworms, because adult worms are usually found only in the lungs of cats.
Combination Heartworm Diagnosis is Best for Cats
Accurate testing for heartworm larvae is more complicated in cats due to the way heartworm larvae thrive in cat’s blood chemistry. A simple blood test is not reliable in cats. Talk with your veterinarian about antigen testing coupled with tomography or X-ray imaging if heartworms are suspected. Heart treatment is not available yet for cats in the same ways as it is for dogs, so learning all the ways you can prevent your cat from being infected is important.
For many cat owners, their cat is much more like their own child than just a pet. Investing time in learning more about how to best care for your cat is how you can give back the love and loyalty your cat gives you unconditionally.