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Feline Heartworm Disease
Feline heartworm disease is a parasitic infection of the heart,
lungs and blood caused by a roundworm called Dirofilaria
immitis. Heartworms are a more commonly parasite in dogs,
but they also can infest a wide range of other mammals,
The infectious larvae of Heartworms are transmitted by
mosquitoes to the host animal. Adult Heartworms live in the
heart and arteries of an infested animal. They produce small
immature Heartworms called microfilariae which travel
through the blood of the infected animal. When a mosquito
feeds on the blood of the infected animal the microfilariae
will infect the mosquito and the immature heartworm develops
into an infective larvae.
The next time this mosquito bites a mammal, that mammal will
get infected with Heartworms, which then travel to the heart
and arteries attach themselves and feed off the animal's
blood. If the infection is bad enough it will clog the
arteries and heart, causing heart failure.
Your cat is not likely to be infected by Heartworms unless
there are a large number of infected dogs in your area, but
if you live in areas that have high mosquito populations or
a problem with Heartworms in the dog population, you should
have your cat tested for heartworms regularly.
Some clinical symptoms of Heartworms in Cats:
- Respiratory symptoms (coughing and difficulty in breathing)
- Respiratory collapse
It isn't unknown for a cat to appear healthy and then
suddenly die in an hour from Heartworms.
Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to diagnose Heartworms
from the clinical symptoms because there are so many other
diseases that have the same symptoms. The only way to
diagnose Heartworms is through a blood test looking for
microfilariae in the blood.
It is very hazardous to your cat's health to treat
Heartworms. The best way to treat Heartworms is to prevent
them through the use of medications. There are medications
that will treat the secondary symptoms from Heartworms. Ask
the advice of your veterinarian if your cat is diagnosed
with Heartworms as to how to most safely go about treating it.
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