Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by worms called Dirofilaria immitus. These worms are “spaghetti-like”, grow up to 12″ long, and reside in the heart. The Larval Form of this worm is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Cats of all ages and breeds are susceptible but three to six year old male cats have the highest incidence. The worms live in the right side of the heart and generally cause severe heart and lung damage before any signs of disease become apparent.
* Coughing and difficulty breathing
* Lethargy, anorexia, weight loss
Cats generally have only two or three worms in their hearts that live only two years after infection. Accurate detection and diagnosis is difficult in cats because the signs are often vague and mimic other diseases. Eighty percent of infected cats have “occult” Heartworm Disease and show no signs at all. Some cats appear healthy then suddenly die from heartworms.
Outdoor cats are most susceptible but mosquitoes slip through cracks and screen doors with ease, therefore, all cats and dogs are at risk; those living indoors and out. Treatment is risky and extensive, occasionally even fatal. Prevention is the key.
Prevention eliminates the need for a cure and has recently been approved in cats. Cats should be blood tested negative prior to receiving the preventative medication.
Many new monthly flea prevention products are also against Heartworms. “Revolution” contains Selamectin as the active ingredient. It is an effective product recently approved to prevent heartworms, fleas and ear mites in cats and dogs. It is a “liquid” applied to the skin between the shoulder blades at 30-day intervals and is safe enough to use on kittens.
NOTE: Heartworm Disease in cats has been reported in all 50 states and in many other countries. Anywhere that mosquito’s exist, so do fleas.