April is Heartworm Awareness Month! You may know that heartworms pose a serious—and potentially fatal—risk to dogs. However, these dangerous parasites are also dangerous to our feline friends! A Pasadena, MD vet discusses heartworm in cats below.
Heartworms are not directly transmitted from pet to pet. The mosquito has apparently volunteered to spread these horrible worms. The worms are in larval form when a dog or cat contracts them. However, they soon start growing. With canids, such as dogs, wolves, foxes, and coyotes, the worms rapidly start multiplying when they reach their full size. This takes about six months. At this point, they usually take up residence in pets’ vital organs. Needless to say, this can be very dangerous.
Heartworm infestations play out a bit differently with cats than in dogs. Kitties’ bodies aren’t as hospitable to the worms as dogs’ are. Therefore, many worms in cats die before reaching maturity. Since the worms don’t always multiply, sometimes infestations resolve themselves. It’s also uncommon to find more than a couple of adult worms in a cat. However, that doesn’t mean that Fluffy is off the hook. Even a few worms can cause permanent damage to a kitty’s vital organs. Worms can also move around in cats, causing other issues, such as blood clots.
Keep a close eye out for signs of heartworm infestation. Some common ones in cats include coughing, vomiting, weight loss, reduced appetite, and respiratory issues. Infestations can also cause more serious problems, such as fainting, seizures, and staggering. Unfortunately, worms can also cause sudden death, even in cats that previously showed no signs of infestations.
As you may know, there are heartworm treatments available for dogs. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case with cats. With kitties, heartworm prevention is often the next step. However, you’ll really need to get an official treatment plan from your vet. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, call your vet right away.
As the saying says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That definitely applies here! Fortunately, all you have to do to protect your furball from heartworms is keep up with her parasite control regiment. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Please reach out to us, your Pasadena, MD vet clinic, for all of your kitty’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!