If you are of the notion that heartworms only affect dogs, then you are wrong. Cats can also get heartworms too because the disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. However, the frequency of infection is less because cats are not the typical host of heartworms.
Cats have a stronger immune system than dogs against heartworms. And most of the microfilariae do not survive to mature into adults. But, even the small number of worms can cause relevant damage to the cat’s internal body. You might not know that in cats worms are not just confined to heart or blood vessels but they rather travel to different arteries, bodily cavities, spinal cord and even brain. Hence, it is actually difficult to detect the disease in them as the signs are dubious and variable. This puts the cat at higher risk and therefore must be checked by the vet for heartworms, yearly.
So, How A Pet Parent Can Detect The Presence of Heartworms In His Cat?
Signs Of Heartworms In Cats
A cat may exhibit the following symptoms of heartworms:
- Breathing Difficulty
- Mild Asthma
- Loss Of Appetite
- Weight Loss
Cats can suffer from Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disorder (HARD) due to the damaged lung arteries. They are small-bodied animals, thus can get severely ill even with the presence of two or three worms.
Diagnosis Of Heartworms In Cats
The number of heartworms present in cats is normally very low and they lodge in different sites. Therefore, a variety of tests are conducted to find out the amount of damage done to the body. These may include: x-rays to check any swelling or enlargement of arteries and veins, electrocardiograph for worm identification, antigen and antibody test and urine analysis.
Treatment And Prevention
Unfortunately, there is no cure available to treat heartworms in cats. The injections that are given to dogs cannot be administered to cats thus prevention is the only way. Else, surgery will be required.
There are many preventatives like Revolution spot-on and Advantage multi. These are highly effective in eliminating immature heartworms – microfilariae from the cat’s system.
You must note that heartworms can infect both outdoor and indoor cats. Therefore, even if your cat stays completely within the confines of your house, she must be given preventatives. A single bite of a mosquito can transfer the disease to your kitty. So, better immune to her beforehand.