Heartworms are a potentially fatal parasitic worm that can infect the pulmonary arteries, lungs, and heart of your cat. One type of roundworm, heartworms in cats are typically thin, white, and several inches long. While heartworms are more common in dogs, it is certainly possible for cats to become infected and disease can subsequently develop. Because of the serious nature of heartworm infection in pets, it is very important to take them seriously. If you suspect your cat has been infected by heartworms, visit the veterinarian immediately.
But how do you recognize a heartworm infection in cats. Anyone living in an area that has a lot of mosquitoes should be vigilant about heartworms. Mosquitoes can carry heartworms which are then past onto your pets when the mosquitoes feed. Diagnosing heartworms in cats can be difficult, but there are several symptoms to watch for.
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive weight loss
If you notice some or all of these symptoms, visit your veterinarian so that heartworms can be diagnosed. While diagnosing heartworms is sometimes challenging, your vet will conduct an antibody and antigen test along with a number of other diagnostics including an echocardiogram.
Once heartworms have been confirmed, your vet will recommend a course of treatment. Heartworms are actually very dangerous in cats and if your cat is showing no clinical symptoms your vet may opt to let the parasite pass in its own time. Heartworms can live for up to 3 years so your cat will require regular veterinary checkups. Recently, some veterinarians have recommended prednisone to reduce inflammation and the symptoms associated with infection. In very serious cases of heartworms in cats, you cat may require help breathing, oxygen therapy, and intravenous fluids.