Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. It is caused by large worms (1 foot in length) that live inside the heart and lungs of affected animals which causes severe lung and heart disease. Heartworms affects many animals including dogs, cats, ferrets, and many other mammalian species.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, where the microfilaria (immature heartworms) take 6 months to mature into adult worms that live in the heart and lungs.
Cat heartworm disease is very different from that of dogs. Cats are an atypical host for the heartworms, thus most worms do not survive to adult stage in them. Cats usually only have 1 to 3 worms present whereas dogs can have several hundreds and they can live for 2-3 years in cats and 5-7 years in dogs. Even though most of the worms don’t make it to adult stages in cats, the immature worms can cause significant respiratory/lung damage. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworms in cats, so prevention is the only way to protect them from the effects of heartworm disease.
Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle to very dramatic. Symptoms include coughing, asthma-like signs, vomiting, inappetence, and weight loss. Unfortunately, the first clinical signs in some cats is sudden death.
Cats need to be on year-round heartworm prevention just like dogs. Please contact us today to get your beloved cat started on heartworm prevention today!