It's the height of summer. And, like most folks, you might be headed up to cottage country or roughing it on a campsite with your cat. But with the warm summer nights comes a potential threat - mosquitoes. And these little buggers pack more than just an itchy bite. They can also carry cat heartworm disease.
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the heart and pulmonary arteries of mammals, including cats. The disease is not spread directly from cat to cat, rather it's carried by the mosquito. So it's not surprising that the spread of this disease coincides with the mosquito season.
Prevention of Cat Heartworm Disease
The good news is that most felines can be successfully treated for heartworms if the disease is detected early through a regular heartworm test. If you suspect your cat may have heartworms, seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian immediately.
Prevention of heartworm infection can be obtained through a number of veterinary drugs. These drugs are administered monthly during mosquito season. Preventive drugs are highly effective and, when regularly administered, will protect more than 99 percent of cats from infection. As always, we strongly recommend that cat owners talk to their vet before utilizing any heartworm medication or treatment.
Symptoms of Heartworms in Cats
Cats infected with heartworms can live for several years before manifesting symptoms, if any. So it's a good idea to get regular diagnostic heartworm tests, especially if your cat spends time outdoors. However, the most obvious indicators are cough, exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds, difficulty breathing, enlargement of the liver, fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, and abnormal heart sounds.
Even though many cats can go on for long periods of time without showing any symptoms of heartworm disease or may never show symptoms, it is still a good idea to do regular diagnostic testing for heartworms especially if your cat spends time outdoors.