They’re a parasite that can go undetected for months – it’s important you take precautions to safeguard your pet.

Heartworm in cats

What is heartworm in cats?

Heartworm is a parasite that lives in your cat’s heart and nearby blood vessels and feed on their blood. Heartworm is spread through mosquito bites and a single bite from an infected mosquito can give your cat heartworm. When an infected mosquito feeds on a cat, they transmit heartworm larvae, which then spreads through the bloodstream to the heart.

After a cat is bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes about seven months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Fortunately you can prevent your cat from contracting heartworm by regularly treating them with a heartworm preventative. If you’re unsure which is the best product for your cat, ask a friendly Petbarn team member or use our Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder.

Try our Cat Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder

Try our Cat Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder

Can an indoor cat get heartworm?

Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes so if one of these pesky insects has ever made their way into your home, then your cat is at risk. Pet owners often believe that their indoor cats are shielded from the outside world but unfortunately this is often not the case.

What are heartworm symptoms in cats?

Symptoms of heartworm in cats include respiratory issues such as coughing and rapid breathing, and weight loss and vomiting. As these are often symptoms of other diseases, it can be hard to identify a heartworm infection in cats, and sometimes the first sign that something’s wrong is a sudden respiratory failure or even death.

Unlike dogs, cats are not typical hosts for heartworm and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. This means that there are often less adult heartworms in infected cats compared to infected dogs, making it harder to identify and treat the disease before it’s too late. This is why preventing your cat from contracting heartworm in the first place with regular heartworm control is so important.

How do you prevent heartworm in cats?

There are many safe treatments available to protect your cat from heartworm disease, including tablets and spot-ons. Make sure to use the right product for your cat’s age and weight.

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Is heartworm fatal in cats?

While heartworm disease is very serious and potentially life threatening for cats, it is completely preventable if you regularly provide your cat with a heartworm preventative.

Heartworm testing is recommended if you have accidentally forgotten to give heartworm medication for a period of time, as medicating a pet that has already been infected can be fatal. Your Greencross Vets will be able to guide you to the most appropriate treatment options available.