Cats heartworm disease is not as common as the same disease in dogs, but it can still be an extremely dangerous disease for your cat.
The symptoms of cats heartworm disease can range to that of very mild, to being fatal if respiratory and cardiac complications set in.
Male cats are much more susceptible to cat’s heartworm disease than are female cats simply because by nature they are more prone to roam.
Cats that live in mosquito infested areas and that spend a lot of time outdoors are especially at risk, as cats heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes.
Heart-worms are a parasite that is called “dirofilaria immitis” and are about the size of a very thin piece of spaghetti.
They will live and virtually thrive in the right side of your cat’s heart and nearby blood vessels.
What is important to remember about cats heartworm disease or any disease that deals with parasites and other like infections, is your cat’s immune system and how prepared it is to ward off these attacks.
The immune system in cats is a complex system that when functioning properly, fights off bacteria, parasites, fungi, and infections.
Critical nutrients and supplementation of those nutrients to stimulate the immune system are a must to keep it functioning properly, and in helping to prevent cats’ heartworm disease from starting.
Vitamins A, C, E and essential fatty acids, as well as Minerals that include manganese, selenium, zinc, copper and iron, all help the to build and maintain the immune system.
if it is strong it can help ward off cats heartworm disease.
In cats heartworm disease, the mosquito will inject the larvae of this parasite from the heart worm into your cat’s skin when it is bitten.
Although it is thought that cats heartworm disease was isolated just to mosquito heavy areas, it is actually a serious threat in all 50 states and in most countries other than very frigid environments.
What makes cats heartworm disease especially dangerous to your feline is that it is very difficult to detect and the tests that are given are not proven to be extremely reliable.
One worm alone if not properly detected can, in some cases, cause sudden death and or sudden respiratory signs that will closely resemble asthma without the proper medical tests by your veterinarian.
There was even some resistance and speculation in the medical community that this disease was so rare in cats that preventive measure were not needed.
However, some recent data has shown that cats heartworm has become as high as 20% per ratio of dog heartworm disease.
The symptoms and clinical signs of cat’s heartworm disease can be either chronic or acute in nature.
In the acute cases, there may be just some signs of pulmonary or nervous symptoms problems that may include a sudden and consistent coughing as well as vomiting.
It may also include symptoms similar to anorexia which will lead to weight loss in your cat.
Acute cases of cats heartworm disease have also had some examples of severe and sudden weakness, severe dyspnea to the point that your cat will actually be trying to tell and show you that they are in distress.
They will do this by sudden mood changes, and than in the worst of cases, sudden death.
The chronic signs of cats heartworm disease may include pulmonary disorders that are episodic in nature and some forms of gastrointestinal problems,.
It may also trigger congestive heart failure so this disease should be taken very seriously.
If your cat shows signs that they are having very difficult time breathing, this may not be asthma at all, but cats heartworm disease.
In trying to fully understand cats heartworm disease, it helps to understand exactly what this parasite that causes this disease is about.
An adult worm (the parasite dirofilaria immitis), is sexually advanced enough to produce young worms, and continues to grow in length and size as it matures.
In dogs this adult heartworm can live up to seven years, but in cat’s it is believed to live only about two years.
However, because cats are smaller, the risk is just as large.
The heartworm lives in a free floating form in the blood in the right heart vertical that is part of the function of the pulmonary blood vessels.
The major function of the right vertical is to receive blood that is returned to the body that is low in oxygen.
It than pumps blood to the lungs to absorb oxygen and than to deliver it to the left lung once it has been oxygenated, and it is than apparent why your cat my suffer sudden breathing problems.
The constant moving of the heartworm, or worms, is what causes blockage of this function, and the severity or these signs will be dictated by the number of worms present in your cats system.
There are, however, a few other ways this parasite can affect your feline with cat’s heartworm disease.
An abnormal migration is also possible.
Basically, the parasite can take a wrong turn, and end up in places such as the under the skin, the eyes, or the stomach, and this will present a litany of troubles for your cat.
The three most common tests for cat’s heartworm disease are the heartworm antigen test, the Knotts test, and a test that looks for the presence of antibodies.
The antigen test will look specifically for the presence of a protein given off by the sexually mature female heartworm.
While considered one of the best, it may miss the parasite if there are just a few female worms infesting your cat.
The Knotts test for cat’s heartworm disease is a test that treats the blood with a chemical that will break down the blood cells, is put in a centrifuge and spun, and what falls to the bottom is examined for microfilaria.
This test, however, can also miss if there are just a few microfilarias present.
The third and most common test for cat’s heartworm disease is to look for the presence of antibodies to the larval stage, or form, of the parasite.
The problem with this test is it may show that at some point in time your cat had an exposure to heart-worms, but your cat may not necessarily be infected at this present point.
Treatment of cat’s heartworm disease is very controversial, and should only be done by your veterinarian.
It is also reserved only for cats that are suspected to have very large and identifiable worms in their system, or have reoccurring problems.
It has also been highly recommended that unless your cat has a very high degree of clinical signs, they should never be treated with any form of adulticidal heartworm treatment.
While it is very effective in killing adult worms the side effects could also be fatal for your cat.
There are some herbal remedies for these parasites.
They include cloves, which is an antibacterial spice very effective with parasite and Neem, which is a popular wood known for anti-worm properties.
Ruta Gravolens, which is well known for promoting digestive and systemic cleaning is also very effective.