How To Protect Your Cat Against Heartworms

Whether your cat stays indoors all the time or goes outside, heartworm disease is an always present danger. This disease is spread through mosquito bites. Since a small number of mosquitoes can enter your home when you open a door, your cat is always at risk. Here's a look at heartworm disease in cats, how it's treated, and how you can keep your cat from getting heartworms.

How Heartworm Disease Spreads

Your cat can get heartworms if it gets a bite from an infected mosquito. The mosquito picks up the infection by biting another animal that has heartworms, such as a dog, cat, coyote, or other wild animal. Your cat can get heartworms at any time of the year when mosquitoes are present. Some parts of the country have a higher incidence of heartworm disease, and the infection rate can vary in a local area year by year.

What Symptoms May Be Present In Cats

Cats display a variety of symptoms when they have heartworms. Your cat may have very few symptoms up to the point where sudden death occurs. It's also possible that your cat will have trouble breathing, vomit frequently, lose weight, go blind, or become very fatigued. When your cat has these symptoms, it doesn't mean heartworms are present because there could be another medical condition at work. Take your cat to a veterinarian for an examination and to be tested for heartworms when you suspect your cat isn't feeling well.

How Heartworms Are Treated In Cats

There is no cure for heartworms in cats. Heartworms affect dogs and cats in entirely different ways. Medication that treats heartworms in dogs won't work on cats. Instead, your cat's health is managed for comfort. For instance, if the heartworms cause wheezing and shortness of breath, the vet may give your cat medications to treat the lungs to make breathing easier.

Heartworms grow differently in cats too. The worms don't live as long and they don't grow as plentifully since cats aren't an ideal carrier like dogs are. This helps keep the worms to a minimum, and it's possible your cat can fight off the infection and get rid of the worms without medical intervention. However, heartworms in cats can be deadly, even if only a few worms are present, so getting care from a veterinarian is important. If necessary, your veterinarian may be able to remove the worms through surgery.

How To Protect Your Cat From Heartworms

The only good thing about heartworms is that it is a preventable disease. Your veterinarian can prescribe a heartworm preventative medication for cats that you apply to your cat or feed through a pill. You give the heartworm medication monthly in the same way you provide flea medication monthly. This will protect your cat from unnecessary suffering caused by heartworms.