April is Heartworm Awareness Month! This is usually a topic people associate with dogs, but our feline friends can also be afflicted. Heartworm infestations are very dangerous to kitties. In fact, a single worm can be fatal! A Rochester, NY vet goes over some of the basics of protecting Fluffy from heartworms in this article.
How Heartworms Spread
As you may know, heartworms are not spread via direct contact. Instead, they are transmitted by what may be the most annoying insect ever, the mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, such as a dog, wolf, or coyote, it can then transmit the larvae to the next animal it chomps on. Fluffy does have a bit of an advantage here, in that her fur is not easy for mosquitos to get through. However, she is by no means immune.
Because of the difference in cats’ and dogs’ body composition, heartworms do not multiply as quickly or easily in our feline pals as they do in dogs. In fact, it’s quite rare to find more than a few live adult worms in a cat. However, even though Fluffy isn’t an ideal host for heartworms, they can still make her very sick. As with dogs, worms can affect cats’ vital organs, and can cause permanent damage.
Keep an eye out for warning signs. These include coughing, vomiting, respiratory troubles, weight loss, and reduced appetite. Heartworms can also make it hard for kitties to exert themselves, so lethargy is another red flag. (Of course, given that Fluffy sleeps so much anyway, this may be tricky to spot.) Severe infestations can also cause fainting or seizures. In some cases, heartworm infestations can result in sudden and unexpected death. This is of course heartbreaking, and can be devastating to the pet’s owner. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these signs in your furry pal.
Keep up with your feline buddy’s parasite control! This is the single, most important thing you can do to protect your cute pet. It also won’t hurt to take steps to battle mosquito populations. Given that standing water often serves as mosquito nurseries, making sure that rainwater isn’t sitting in buckets or tarps can help. Ask your vet for more information.
Is your kitty due for an exam or parasite control? Contact us, your local Rochester, NY pet hospital!