We associate the health problem of heartworms with dogs, but your cat can get heartworms also. If the tiny microscopic larvae of the heartworm, which is transmitted by the mosquito, settle into your cat’s lungs or heart, it will cause a big health problem for your cat.
If your cat is bitten by a mosquito that is infected with heartworms, that mosquito deposits the heartworm larvae into your cat. The larvae of the heartworms then migrate toward the lungs or heart of a cat. After about six months from the time your cat was bitten by a mosquito infected with heartworms, the heartworms will have reached the mature stage of 9-11 inches in length and begin releasing immature heartworms into your cat’s bloodstream. The heartworms can live up to 2 years in your cat and usually, the only sign that your cat is infected with heartworms is the sudden death of your cat.
Heartworms cause more lung problems in a cat, rather than in the heart of a cat. Sometimes a cat infected with heartworms will present a health problem like asthma, with symptoms of coughing or rapid breathing. A veterinarian will have to do an ultrasound or chest x-ray to determine exactly what health problem your cat is experiencing since heartworms are not as easy to detect in a cat as in a dog. If heartworms are detected in your cat, there are currently no good treatment options available.
If your cat is an indoor cat, it is still susceptible to heartworms. An indoor cat even has a greater health problem risk from heartworms, because an indoor cat has not built up an immunity against mosquito bites.
A heartworm health problem is not contagious, so if you have more than one cat or a cat and a dog, there are no worries about other pets contracting heartworms from an infected cat. The only way a cat can get heartworms is to be bitten by a heartworm infected mosquito.
While detection and diagnosis of heartworms in a cat are not easy, this is one cat health problem that is 100% preventable. Heartworm prevention medication is available for your cat, just like heartworm prevention medication for dogs, and you can obtain the heartworm prevention medication from your veterinarian.
Heartworms not only cause a health problem in dogs, but your cat runs an almost equal risk of this health problem as well. Heartworm prevention is essential for both dogs and your cat.