There are a lot of discussions nowadays about whether or not cats need heartworm prevention. Some vets believe that the risk of heartworm in cats is low and that preventive drugs are more effective at preventing other diseases in cats. However, others maintain that all cats should be on a heartworm prevention regimen since there is always some risk of infection. So, what’s the truth? Do cats need heartworm prevention? Let’s take a closer look.
What are heartworms?
Heartworms are long, thin worms that live in infected animals’ hearts and pulmonary arteries. They are transmitted by mosquitoes, which pick up the larvae from an infected animal and transfer them to another animal when they take a blood meal. The larvae mature into adults over several months and can grow up to 12 inches long. Adult heartworms can live for 5-7 years in cats and 7-10 years in dogs.
Can a cat get heartworm?
Yes, cats can get heartworm, although it is less common for them to do so than dogs. This is because the larvae do not survive as well in cats as in dogs, and adult worms do not live as long in cats. In addition, most of the available heartworm preventives are not as effective in cats as in dogs.
Symptoms of heartworms in cats?
The symptoms of heartworm disease in cats can vary depending on the number of worms present and the severity of the infestation. Many infected cats do not show any signs of illness at all. Others may have a mild cough or be lethargic and have difficulty breathing. In serious cases, heartworm illness can cause sudden demise.
How is heartworm disease diagnosed in cats?
A blood test is the best way to diagnose heartworm disease in cats. This test looks for antibodies the cat’s body has produced in response to the presence of heartworms. However, antibodies can remain in the bloodstream for several months after the worms have died, so a positive test does not necessarily mean that the cat currently has heartworms.
How is heartworm disease treated in cats?
There is no supported treatment for heartworm sickness in felines. In most cases, the cat’s immune system will eventually kill the adult worms on its own. However, in severe cases, veterinary intervention may be necessary to help relieve symptoms and support the cat until the worms are gone.
What are the risks of heartworm infection in cats?
While the risk of heartworm infection in cats is lower than in dogs, it is still present. In fact, according to the American Heartworm Society, there has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases of heartworm infection in cats in recent years. The most common symptom of heartworm disease in cats is a cough, but other symptoms can include weight loss, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Heartworm disease can be difficult to diagnose and often mistaken for other respiratory disorders.
How do you prevent heartworm disease in cats?
There are several products available for the prevention of heartworm disease in cats. These products typically contain an insecticide that kills the larvae of the heartworm worm before they have a chance to mature into adults. These products also protect against other parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms. It is important to talk to your veterinarian about which product is right for your cat and to ensure that it is up to date on all of its vaccinations.
Do and don’ts of feline heartworm protection?
- Talk to your veterinarian about the best heartworm prevention option for your cat and whether or not your cat needs to be on a heartworm prevention regimen.
- All ensure that your feline is state-of-the-art on its immunizations.
- Keep your cat indoors to help reduce its risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
- Don’t let your cat outdoors if it is not on a heartworm prevention regimen.
- Don’t skip doses of your cat’s heartworm preventive medication.
- Don’t forget to have your cat tested for heartworms every year.
So, do cats need heartworm prevention? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, they do. While the risk of heartworm infection in cats is lower than in dogs, it is still present. And, since heartworm disease can be difficult to diagnose and have serious consequences, it is best to avoid caution and give your cat the protection it needs.