- Persistent cough
- Breathing difficulties (panting, wheezing, rapid or open-mouthed breathing)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sporadic vomiting
Friday, April 10, 2015
Can My Cat Get Heartworm?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” You may have thought heartworm disease only affects dogs, but unfortunately cats can be infected with heartworm as well. The cat is not a natural host for the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, and so the microscopic immature heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, often do not grow into adult heartworms. If they do reach maturity, there often are only a few adult heartworms in each infected cat. That means fewer and smaller worms survive causing false negative heartworm test results and making accurate diagnosis more difficult.
Heartworm disease in cats can have serious consequences and prevention is the key. Both the immature microfilaria and the adult worms cause the cat’s body to set up an immune reaction to kill the developing worms. This immune reaction causes lung damage, or Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD), resulting in asthma-type symptoms or even sudden death. Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm-infected dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is really the only means of protecting cats from HARD. Once infected, the only recourse is to manage your cat’s symptoms, which may require long term medication and even hospitalization if symptoms are severe. The following signs may indicate that your cat has been infected:
If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, please call us right away at (203) 775-3679 to schedule an appointment.
Next week, look for Dr. Salvatore’s piece on heartworm prevention in cats, and why it’s important for even our indoor cats to be protected.
By Rachael Chandler, CVT
Rachael Chandler is a certified veterinary technician and is one of two feline advocates we have on staff. Please feel free to give Rachael a call for tips on making your cat’s visit to our office easier, or to ask any general cat care questions. You can also visit our website at www.BrookfieldAnimalHospital.com and look under the “Services” tab for other cat care tips.