Can My Indoor Cat Get Heartworms?
Actually, yes! Both indoor and outdoor cats can become infected with the same heartwormIs a parasitic roundworm that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. parasite that is better known for infecting dogs. Awareness of this disease is important for Texas owners because even one heartworm in your cats can be deadly.
“How can my cat become infected? He stays indoors.”
As with dogs, cats are infected by the bite of an infected mosquito. A cat cannot get heartworms directly from dogs or other cats. TransmissionThe action or process of transmitting something or the state of being transmitted. occurs only through a mosquito that has fed on an infected animal. Unfortunately, your cat’s thick haircoat is not protection; mosquitoes are not fooled and are experts at finding a vulnerable spot on your pet. Does your cat like to sit next to an open, screened-in window? How about spending an evening on your patio? Don’t forget that pesky mosquito that sneaks into your house. These are some of the ways indoor cats are exposed to mosquitoes in Texas.
“My cat seems healthy. How can I tell if she could be infected?”
Signs of heartworm infection are vague and may include mild lethargyA lack of energy and enthusiasm., intermittent vomiting or signs of asthma. Sadly, many cats with heartworms never show any signs but then die suddenly.
“Can my veterinarian test my cat for heartworms?”
Yes. The diagnosis of feline heartworm disease is not as straightforward in cats as it is in dogs, but your veterinarian is able to screen them through blood testing, x-rays and an ultrasoundSound or other vibrations having an ultrasonic frequency used in medical imaging. of the heart. Unfortunately, even this extensive testing is not always definitive, and negative testing does not mean the absence of heartworms 100 percent of the time. Prevention is always the best road to take when it comes to heartworms.
“Can I prevent my cat from getting heartworms?”
You bet! There are several monthly preventatives available from your veterinarian. Many are easy to apply as topicalApplied directly to a part of the body. treatments to be used once a month. As an added benefit, most heartworm preventives will also prevent fleas and even intestinal parasites.
“Can my cat be treated for heartworms?”
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment to eliminate heartworms in cats in Texas or elsewhere. Medication can help alleviate the symptoms but will not clear the infection. That’s why it is so important to take steps to prevent infection from occurring in the first place!
The mosquito is an ever-present pest in Texas. Protect your pet and make an appointment with your family veterinarian to discuss heartworm disease and prevention.
Dr. Christine New practices veterinary medicine at the Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Dallas.