Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Heart-to-Heart About Cat Heartworms

by | Aug 19, 2011 | Cat Behavior & Care | 4 comments

Cat heartworms are a growing concern, particularly since the incidence of dog heartworms continues to rise. Is your cat protected against heartworm disease?

CAT HEARTWORMS TRANSMISSION

To become infected, a cat must live in an area that has infected dogs, and with mosquitoes that have a taste for both dog blood and cat blood. Wildlife also serves as a reservoir for the disease so coyotes and raccoons could put your pets at risk. Heck, the coyotes come up onto my back patio! Even though Magical-Dawg is negative for the disease and takes preventative, Seren-kitty could get heartworm from a single mosquito biting a coyote and nailing her before I could swat the sucker.

That’s right, I said it. A cat doesn’t have to go outside to be exposed. Exclusively indoor cats also get heartworm disease. They may even be more susceptible, yikes!

Heartworm mapHOW CAT HEARTWORMS ARE TRANSMITTED

Mosquitoes ingest baby heartworms (microfilariae) when taking a blood meal from an already infected animal. The immature parasites spend about three weeks developing inside the mosquito and migrate to the mouthparts of the insect. When the mosquito again takes a blood meal, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to the new host’s body through the bite wound left by the mosquito. Once inside the body, the immature heartworm undergoes many more molts and development stages.

CAT HEARTWORMS SYMPTOMS ARE H.A.R.D.

heartworms

Outdoor cats exposed to mosquitoes increase risk of contracting heartworm disease–but even indoor kitties can get infected.

The larvae are carried by the blood through the heart to the cat’s pulmonary arteries which almost immediately become enlarged and inflamed. They usually die in cats in about 9 months (they can live 5 years in dogs!) and cause severe inflammatory respiratory problems when they die. This has been described as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).

Feline airways become thickened, stiff, and inflamed. Cats with asthma symptoms—open-mouth breathing with blue gums—may in fact be suffering from heartworm disease. Frequent vomiting also can be a sign of feline heartworm disease. “The third unfortunate sign we see is the cat is fine this morning, and dead this afternoon,” says Dr. Graham.

CAT HEARTWORMS TESTS

Current tests don’t detect all feline heartworm cases. Antigen tests identify the presence of adult female worms. That means cats could have immature worms present, or an adult male, and appear to be safe. Antibody tests can detect very early infections by immature worms–fantastic for our dogs!–but half of all cats that have worms don’t have antibodies against them. Additional chest radiographs and echocardiograms may be needed when heartworm infection is suspected.

A single heartworm can kill the cat, and there’s no cure or treatment for feline heartworms. Instead, veterinarians suppress the inflammation in the lungs and make it easier to breathe using such drugs as prednisone, bronchodilators, and doxycycline. Infected cats usually are put on heartworm preventive so they don’t get any new worms that further complicate their care.

Preventing Feline Heartworms

While diagnosis is difficult and treatment virtually impossible, there are preventive products for cats. The American Heartworm Society provides guidelines and the latest research on its site. They recommend all cats should be on preventative, year round. Start kittens at 6 to 8 weeks of age–there are products that not only prevent heartworms but also control other parasites like fleas so you’re multi-tasking and keeping kitty safe. It costs pennies a day to protect my dog and cat, compared to the expense of treating an infection.

Losing Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat to heartworms is not a price I’m willing to pay.

How about you? What sorts of preventatives to you give your fur-kids? Fleas and tick stuff? Heartworm prevention? Do you prefer the “natural” route or have suggestions how to get the cats to accept “what’s good for them?” There are liquid alternatives and spot ons for some of these preventions. What works best for your pets?


YouTube Button

Subscribe to Amy’s YouTube Channel

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

4 Comments

  1. Lotta's ullisar

    That is a scary worm! Very interresting article, I’ve only heard of it before, Have you heard if it’s common in Europe/Scandinavia? As I live in Sweden and am concerned about my cat. I will also try to check it up myself, but maybe you know.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Hi Lotta, you’d have to ask your veterinarians. From what I can tell, the incidence of canine heartworms is increasing in Europe possibly from importing pets from outside of the country.

      Reply
  2. Charles

    A nasty-sounding worm. Fortunately we don’t get so many of these in the UK, I think. There’s some interesting information about tapeworm and fleas on http://www.CatWormsSymptoms.com, if it’s relevant.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Hi Charles,

      Yes, cats DO get heartworms in the UK and dogs, too. They’ve been found around the world, unfortunately. I understand Italy has a big problem because of mosquitoes and water.

      Thanks for the link to the intestinal worms issues. Here if a kitty is on some of the more common flea preventives–and some of the heartworm preventives too–they also prevent intestinal parasites.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Feline Friday: Heart-to-Heart About Heartworms « Amy Shojai’s Blog « Undercover Kitty - [...] Feline Friday: Heart-to-Heart About Heartworms « Amy Shojai’s Blog. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]
  2. Monday Mentions: Pets, Vets & Furry Writer-icity « Amy Shojai's Blog - [...] Amy Shojai's Blog Bling, Bitches & Blood HomeAbout AmyContact Amy ← Feline Friday: Heart-to-Heart About Heartworms [...]
  3. Woof Wednesday: Heart-to-Heart About Doggy Heartworms « Amy Shojai's Blog - [...] disease. That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also…
  4. Feline Friday: Happy Cat Month « Amy Shojai's Blog - [...] Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even indoor cats are at…
  5. Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes - […] That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also can…
  6. Cat IBD: Dealing With Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease - […] usually is made only after ruling out other causes for vomiting, such as giardia, trichomoniasis, heartworms, or a swallowed…
  7. Prevent Pet Parasites Year Round To Protect Dogs & Cats - […] When an infected mosquito bites your dog in August, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to…

Leave a Reply

Categories:

Recent Posts

Safe Hot Weather Games for Pets: Keep Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather

Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games, including Tearribles, Purrini, and LifePro Dog Treatmill (giving some schtuff away!).

What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat?  Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.

And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.

How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!

Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS)

June is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and loud thunderstorms happening this time of year that makes dogs scared? It seems silly, but some dogs feel stress when their human wears a hat! I wanted to share some resources for recognizing and understanding signs of canine fear, anxiety, and stress.

While it’s normal for dogs to be cautious and not run head on into traffic, too much stress and anxiety isn’t healthy. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) also affect the immune system, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Up to 20 percent of dogs will be born prone to introversion and fear. Proper socialization improves puppy confidence, but abuse or poor socialization can result in anxiety-ridden adults. Pain or illness also can cause anxiety so these dogs associate certain kinds of handling with discomfort. Ongoing anxiety, stress or fear may lead to fear aggression.

Extreme fear interferes with learning, making it even more difficult to help dogs overcome the angst. Fearful dogs quickly recognize that escape behaviors or fear aggression makes the scary situation go away, so they learn to repeat these behaviors…

Chewy Once a Year Blue Box Event: Pet Products Savings for Your Special Pets

Y’all may notice something different about my blog–yes, it’s been spiffed up, thanks to a fantastic web designer! Seems the perfect time to celebrate with some great opportunities for your pets. Once a year, Chewy price drops all kinds of pet goodies in their Blue Box Event–good from June 21 through June 24, so don’t wait. Stock up on all the must-have dog products and cat essentials, as well as pocket pet supplies. Oh, you’ll find way too many bargains for me to list simply by going to this Blue Box Event link. But here are some of my favorites. Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat put in their orders. Shhh, keep it a secret or your fur buddies may swipe the credit cards and have a fun time!

Get a $25 eCard Gift Card when you purchase $75 worth of select pet products favorites.

Up to 50% Off Select Toys During Chewy’s Blue Box Event.

Up to 50% Off Select Disney During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Up to 30% Off Once-a-Year Pet Parent Deals During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Learn about more savings…

Small In Show: Calling All Pocket (and other ) Pets!

Why do dogs and cats get all the love? Well… they deserve it, but so do the #SmallInShow contenders, as Rainn Wilson says. “Small pets are truly overlooked. Everyone goes straight to dogs and cats. But Kaytee is out to show that these little creatures have big personalities and are just as worthy to be part of your family. That’s something that was easy to get behind,” said Rainn Wilson.

No, I’m not compensated to share this. It just tickled me, and we all need some giggles these days. Back in the day, I loved my hamsters Whiskers, Snowball, and Cinnamon, and the first pet article I ever sold (for real live dollar$$$) detailed the story of my rescue parrot, Venus, a spectacle Amazon. Pocket pets deserve the love, too.

Besides, I miss attending Westminster, and certainly understand where Rainn comes from in his disappointment. Enjoy this fun MOCK-umentary from Kaytee. The company is launching its inaugural #SmallinShow Award Show, inviting pet parents of hamsters, bunnies, mice, birds and other small companions to share images and stories of their mini heroes across social media. The #SmallinShow Award Show will culminate with the crowning of three winners who will each receive a one-year supply of Kaytee products….

Work Goes To the Dogs & Cats: PSI’s Take Your Pet To Work Week!

Today, it’s PSI’s TAKE YOUR CAT TO WORK DAY! At my house, every week is Take Your Pet to Work Week. This year, it falls on June 20-24, with the CATS’ day on Monday, and the DOGS’ day on Friday. For many folks who continue to work at home, they experience the joy–and challenges–of work with furry companions 24/7.

Created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to help promote pet adoptions, this week celebrates the 24th anniversary of the event. I’ve written about this nearly every year, so you’ll recognize some of the pictures in the blog.

This year, of course, we have a new dog, Shadow, helping us celebrate. And we’re still navigating a new “normal” after losing our beloved Bravo following his cancer diagnosis. You’ll see some pictures of Bravo with Karma and Shadow, below, as I can’t bear to remove them just yet…after all, he’s still one of my Furry Muses…

Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

These hot summer days, Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. This week, we topped the thermostat at 101 degrees, and it will continue to hover near three digits all week long. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars. Here’s how to save your pets’ lives if they overheat…

How to Prepare for a Disaster: Pet Preparedness & Tips

With the latest hurricane on the way, it's time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September...

Check the Chip: All About Pet Microchips

It's Check Your Pet Microchip Day on August 15! It's early to check but everyone needs a reminder. Your cats and dogs are microchipped, right? When he was (ahem) neutered, Shadow-Pup got his microchip. Both Bravo-Dawg and Karma-Kat already had microchips so that if...

Our Pet Memory Garden: Honoring Furry Muses

Those who follow this blog know about our rose garden tribulations. We live on 13 acres, with lots of area to landscape. It remains a work in progress, and I had several ideas for pet remembrance and plants to honor pets like my Bravo, Magic, Seren and others....

Visit Amy’s Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This