Responsible dog owners know - dogs should be tested and kept on heartworm prevention year round. "There are treatments available for dogs with heartworm, but prevention is the wisest approach" (AKC, heartworm in dogs)
But did you know - cats can get heartworm too!? This mosquito borne disease can affect dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals including wolves, coyotes and foxes. We do a snap blood test on all our new kitties and one of our new kitties, Molly, tested positive for Heartworm this week.
"Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease." (American Heartworm Society)
Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment for heartworm in cats, so there is nothing we can do to treat it at this point. The vet told us what to look out for, and if Molly is in any obvious distress to call them right away!
However, this does not mean Molly can't find a forever home and live a normal life! We do not know what will happen, but we do know that we will do the best we can for her and educate others to the risks and preventative measures for heartworm in cats!
Further Reading & Resources:
American Heartworm Society - Heartworm in Cats