Cause of heartworm in cats
Heartworm disease in cats is caused by a long worm reach to 12 inches, which live in heart lung and blood vessels. Also, dogs affected by the heartworm disease. The parasite is transmitted between cats by infected mosquitoes. Only one infected mosquito can transmit heart worm disease.
There are many species of mosquitoes can transmit heart worm disease. The difference between heartworm disease in cats and dogs:
- In cats, adult worms are found by a small number (one or two), but in dogs are found by large number.
- Commonly cats do not circulate microfilaria.
- Heartworm disease in cats causes respiratory disorders called (HARD) it is occurring due to the presence of adult worms in pulmonary artery.
- Dogs are natural hosts for heartworm (worms mature into adult stage), but the cat is atypical host (Worms not mature into adult stage).
- Heartworm disease in cats is more dangerous than it is in dogs.
Symptoms of heartworm in cats
There are two factors that affect on occurrence of clinical signs which appear on infected cat with heart worm which are the arrival of the worm to the lung and heart blood vessels, and the death of the adult worms. The symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite.
- Loss of weight.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Intermittent vomiting.
- Difficulty in walking.
- Heart worm dies into blood vessels lead to respiratory disorders and shock lead to death.
Diagnosis of heartworm in cats
Heart worm disease in cats is harder to detect than in dogs. Making an accurate diagnosis of heart worm disease in cats can be a quite a challenge, it is done by a combination of clinical and diagnostic findings.
Cat maybe infected by the heartworm disease and there’s no clinical signs appear on it. Most of the signs appear on a diseased cat are respiratory symptoms.
If the symptoms of Heartworm appear on your cat you must visit veterinarian to make other tests for diagnosis as :
- Chest X ray: Thoracic radiography may be strong evidence of heart worm disease. The most characteristic radiographic features of heart worm disease in cats as in dogs are an enlargement of the main lobe and peripheral pulmonary arteries, characterized by loss of taper, and sometimes tortuosity and truncation in the caudal lobar branches.
- Blood testing: In case of feline heart worm disease, many blood tests are used for diagnosis, but there are two tests are the most helpful 1- Antibodies test 2-Antigen tested.
- Necropsy: In case of suspicion of heart worm disease is the cause of death in cat, Necropsy is very diagnostic. A thorough search of right side of the heart and pulmonary arteries must be done because one or two adult worms can be seen.
Prevention of Heartworm in cats
- Are available as a veterinary medication supplied orally or topical for cats and dogs monthly and for dogs only a six month injectable drugs.
- Heartworm prevention is 100 effective when used properly.
- Most heartworm preventives are designed to be effective against third larval stage of heart worm. Once the larvae reach the fourth stage or juvenile adult stage they are no longer susceptible to heart worm preventives.
- Heartworm preventives are among the safest medication used in veterinary medicine they have been proven safe to use in all breeds.
- Due to the potential for microclimate, it is important to utilize heartworm preventives year around.
Treatment of heartworm in cats
- There is no available treatment for heartworm disease in cats.
- Supportive therapy is given to decrease inflammation, aid breathing and prevent complications.
- Cats that survive the disease are not immune to re-infection with heart worm and require long life protection by using heart worm preventives.
- Results of treatment can carry according to the damage caused by heart worm disease.
( You can read more bout symptoms of heart failure in cats)
- County Of Los Angeles Public Health,“Heartworm Disease in Animals in Los Angeles County”.
- American Association of Feline Practitioners, “Deadly Truth Of Heartworm Disease In Cats”.
- Foster Hospital For Small Animals,“Heartworm Basics and Prevention”.
- Panfield Pet Hospital, “Heartworm Lifecycle ”.
- Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Fluminense Federal University, “Feline heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) infection”.
- American Veterinary Medical Association, “Heartworm Disease”.