Feline Heartworm: A Devastating Dilemma

Feline heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted by a mosquito.

A mosquito that is carrying heartworm larvae merely lands on a cat, bites it, and then transmits the larvae into the cat's blood system.

Here, the larvae spend the next eight months developing, eventually settling in the heart or lungs where they grow to maturity and reproduce.

healthy looking catHeartworm preventative medication could help this cat stay free of the heart parasite. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding testing and preventing heartworm disease.

The lifespan of these parasites is usually two to three years.

It used to be thought that instances of heartworm in cats were very rare.

Today it is realized that although felines stand less of a chance of infection than dogs, if a cat gets infected, it is usually more devastating.

This is because there is no approved treatment for cats as of yet.

Just a few adult worms can severely cripple a cat because of their small heart size.

There is some difference of the condition between dogs and cats, creating a difference in diagnosing and treatment of the disease.

It appears that some cats are able to spontaneously rid themselves of heartworms, perhaps because they have developed immunity to the Parasite.

The heartworms may not be able to flourish within those particular felines' systems and die as a consequence. This is relatively rare however.

Both indoor and outdoor cats can get infected with heartworm.

Mosquitoes can, and do, get inside the home and it is thought that the higher body temperature of an indoor pet is attractive to the mosquito.

The risks for outdoor cats are greater however. If there is an epidemic of canine heartworm in a particular area, cats will be at risk also.

Symptoms of Feline Heartworm

Symptoms of heartworm in cats are not always present. Some cats may show no symptoms at all, they literally just collapse and die.

There are many symptoms to look out for regardless. These include: Vomiting that is not food related, Coughing, gagging, fainting, difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing, Lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Should a mature worm move into the cat's brain the unfortunate creature might experience blindness and seizures.

Vomiting and breathing difficulties are the most usual signs in advanced cases, although it is exceptional for a cat to present both of these symptoms at the same time.

Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

A diagnosis of heartworm disease is not simple; your veterinarian may need to run several tests.

Often no treatment at all is given for the disease. Why is this? Although great strides are being made in tackling feline heartworm, at present many infected cats that are treated will develop life threatening problems owing to the affect of dying worms.

Medication may be used to reduce side effects of the disease; there is however, no approved drug to kill feline heartworms.

Prevention is better than cure - There appears to be three prevention drugs available, these are Interceptor, Heartgaurd, and Revolution. Each of these heartworm preventatives is to be administered once a month.

Feline heartworm preventatives are thought to be safe for cats of any age and for kittens over six weeks.

If you suspect that your cat may be infected, take her to your vet immediately.

Prevention is the key to saving your cat from this devastating dilemma. Give your cat a monthly preventative medication. Your cat's life may depend on it.

Your veterinarian may want to check your cat over and give her a blood test before you begin to give her preventative medication.

Always follow the advice of your veterinarian.

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