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Cats and Feline Heartworm Disease
The McAdams argued on the way home from the vet’s office. They had started to bicker after the diagnosis came back. Isabella, their beloved Mackerel Tabby had died from heartworm! “How is this possible?” Jenny McAdams asked as she fought back tears. “I always thought that only dogs get heartworm!” Jeff, her husband falls silent. For once, there is nothing to say.
The McAdams are not alone in their thinking. A common misconception for many cat owners and even vets lies in the belief that heartworm doesn’t affect cats or kittens only dogs. Mistakenly diagnosed across the country by veterinarians as; asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory ailments, many veterinarians won’t even consider the possibility that the kitty on the exam table trying to catch his breath has heartworm. The opinion tide is changing however- in 2007 the KNOW Heartworms campaign was launched to raise awareness of this disease both for cat owners and the veterinarians alike.
What is Feline Heartworm Disease?
What are the Symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease?
The ABC’s of Symptoms:
How is Feline Heartworm Diagnosed?
• Clinical signs (see above)
Prior to being infected, Feline Heartworm Disease is preventable. Heartworm preventatives include:
If you live in a climate that is warm year-round, Heartworm preventatives should be used faithfully. In colder climates when mosquitoes typically die off, consult your veterinarian on how to properly schedule treatment for Heartworm.
Once infected with heartworm (depending on the stage of infection) cats can be treated with steroids. The difficulty comes in managing the inflammation without killing the worms. Dead, the worms cause more havoc that if they are allowed to live. But if left untreated, once the worms reach full maturity and die, the cat will also die. Unlike dogs, in cats it only takes a few worms to wreak internal havoc. For the McAdams, their results were tragic. Had their vet been fully informed about the dangers of Feline Heartworm Disease, Isabella might still be with them today.