How does Heartworm Disease affect cats?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the way in which heartworm disease affects cats is very different from dogs.

The cat is not a natural host for heartworms the way dogs are and therefore most heartworms do not live to the adult stage. The American Heartworm Society tells us that if a cat were to become infected with heartworms, only one to three worms would exist at most, and “many cats infected with heartworm disease have no adult worms.” However, a cat can still fall ill without the adult heartworms, and can instead be affected by the “immature worms.”

Testing a cat for heartworms isn’t as straightforward as it is for dogs.

A cat’s immune system removes the microfilariae very quickly and makes it hard for a test to detect. It is more common for a cat to develop respiratory disease and can be “misdiagnosed as feline asthma,” according to the American Heartworm Society.

The other main difference between cats and dogs is that heartworm can be treated in dogs, but it cannot be treated in cats. This makes protection extra important if you have a cat.

VIP Petcare recommends administering a heartworm preventive to your pet every month for the duration of its life. If you have questions, feel free to visit our staff at a Community Clinic near you or contact us.