Can Cats Get Heartworm?
You may have thought heartworm disease only affects dogs, and it’s true that the infection is less common in cats. The cat is not a natural host for the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, and so the heartworm is not likely to complete its entire life cycle. That means that fewer and smaller worms survive, and many do not reach a cat’s heart. The worms that do survive and the resulting immune reaction that the cat’s body sets up to kill the developing worms can cause severe health problems. How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Heartworm? The following signs may indicate that your cat has been infected: • Persistent cough • Breathing difficulties (panting, wheezing, rapid or open-mouthed breathing) • Depression • Loss of appetite • Weight loss • Sporadic vomiting • Lethargy How Do Cats Get Heartworm? When a mosquito carrying the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, bites a cat, larvae are transmitted into the bloodstream. The larvae migrate toward the heart over a period of around four