The Myths and Facts of Heartworm Disease in Cats

Heartworm Disease in Cats

Heartworm Disease in CatsYou probably already know how important heartworm prevention is for your dog. But did you know that your cat is also susceptible to heartworm infection? Here we will discuss common myths and misconceptions about how heartworm disease affects cats.

MYTH: Cats are not the ideal host for heartworms, so it is not necessary to put my cat on a heartworm prevention.

FACT: While it is true that cats are resistant hosts, it is still possible for cats to become infected. Although some cats are able to mount an immune response strong enough to clear a heartworm infection, the immune response itself can cause many of the same signs associated with heartworm disease. And even if infection resolves, it can still leave your cat with respiratory damage.

MYTH: If my cat tests positive for heartworms, it is easy to treat.

FACT: While heartworm disease is treatable in dogs, the medication is not safe for cats. Currently, there is no recognized drug therapy for the treatment of heartworm in cats. Prevention remains the best option – ask us about starting your cat on a monthly prevention today!

MYTH: There is a reliable and accurate test available for feline heartworms

FACT:  Heartworm disease is difficult to detect in cats because they are less likely to have adult heartworms. As you already know, the test in dogs is only able to detect the adult female heartworm. The best method for detecting heartworms in cats consists of both antigen and antibody testing. The antibody tests detects exposure to heartworm larvae.

MYTH: The symptoms of heartworm disease in cats is the same as in dogs

FACT: Signs of heartworm disease in cats are are vague and often go misdiagnosed. Symptoms include coughing, periodic vomiting, weight loss, and inappetence. Loss commonly seizures, fainting, and fluid accumulation in the abdomen will occur. Unfortunately, some of those with heartworm disease will have no signs at all before experiencing sudden collapse or death.

MYTH: My indoor cat does not need to be on heartworm prevention.

FACT: Although exposure to the mosquitoes that carry heartworm is lessened if your cat never goes outside, the risk still remains. Just because your cat is strictly indoors doesn’t mean that mosquitoes can’t come inside too.