Warm weather is coming and depending on where you live, it’s warm all year around. Here in Michigan you never truly know what to expect throughout our very variable seasons. This fact alone is an important reason is why Cat Care recommends year round heartworm protection on all kitties, indoor and outdoor.
Unfortunately, the fact that not all dogs are on heartworm can contribute to your cat’s risk. A recent study shown that only 59% of dogs were on preventives; this allows for cats to have the a higher potential to be infected with heartworm disease. Every dog owner should have their dogs on a preventive. Because not all dogs are being given a preventive, heartworm has the capability of spreading quicker and quicker. And yes, even your indoor cat is at risk. Even if they don’t leave the house, you do, and you have to open a door to do so. Just like you can come in and out, so can mosquitoes, which are the pests that carry heartworm to your animals. Opening windows in your house when nice weather hits is common, and mosquitoes will take that opportunity to wear out their welcome.
Remember, it only takes a single bite from one infected mosquito to infect your cat. Once your cat is infected with heartworm disease, the detrimental health problems to your cat are irreversible, and even sudden death can occur. What makes heartworm disease so scary is that it is untreatable in cats, unlike dogs, who have a treatment available. Sadly, even with all the information available, only 6% of cats are on a heartworm preventive. That’s the bad news. The good news is that preventing heartworm disease can cost as low as $ 7.83 a month to treat.
What is heartworm disease?
Cats become infected with heartworm disease through the mosquito bites of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos infect and transmit heartworm larvae by biting and ingesting them from infected dogs. If an infected mosquito bites a cat, there is a chance that the larvae can be transmitted to the cat and carried through their blood stream to their lungs or heart, or both.
What is HARD, and what are the symptoms?
HARD stands for Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease.
Symptoms include coughing, asthma, heart murmurs and difficulty with breathing. More serious signs include anorexia, convulsions, collapse and sometimes sudden death. The symptoms of HARD can mimic the symptoms of many other very common diseases, so it is important to see your veterinarian if your cat is experiencing any of these signs.
Can you test for heartworm disease in cats?
There is testing available, however, due to the nature of feline heartworm disease, the current antigen and antibody tests are unreliable in diagnosing the disease.
Michigan and other East Coast states have high incidence of heartworm disease, because our often warm and wet weather is the perfect habit for mosquitoes to thrive in.
Heartworm disease affects all cats both indoor and outdoor, because the mosquitoes can survive in your house and ingest a blood meal from your cat.
If your cat does become infected with heartworm disease the only treatment is to have your cat placed on a preventive to keep your cat from getting reinfected.
Heartworm is a terrible disease that your cat is at risk for contracting, if you don’t have them on a year around preventive. Remember that once your cat contracts heartworm disease, the damage that these worms cause is irreversible and sadly, sudden death is a possibility from a single heartworm-infected mosquito bite. Keeping your cat on a year around preventive is one of the best thing you can do for your cat to help keep them healthy and living a long life.