Feline Heartworm Disease

  • Heartworm disease affects both cats and dogs. And research shows in communities where dogs get heartworm, feline infection can be as high as 15% for the same area.
  • Of the total of infected cats, 27% are considered by their owners to be indoor-only. This means both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk of heartworm exposure.
  • Even a single heartworm can be fatal to cats. Cats have a natural immune response to heartworm, however, some worm larvae may still reach the mature (fatal) stage.

How does heartworm disease affect cats?

  • Feline heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic infection with the worm, Dirofilaria immitis. Transferred from the bite of a mosquito carrier, worm larvae travel to the cat's circulatory system where they can cause serious problems with the heart and lungs
  • Especially in early stages, heartworm infection shows few, if any, signs. As disease progresses, an infected cat may show asthma-like symptoms, mild cough or weight loss. Regular testing is the only way to know if your cat is infected.
  • There is no cure or vaccine for feline heartworm, but it is virtually 100% preventable. Administering preventative will help safeguard against new heartworm exposures and chronic infection, as well as other parasites.

What can I do to help?

  • Have your cat tested as soon as possible. Testing will help your veterinarian understand your cat's infection status and provide a baseline for future tests.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about prevention. Monthly preventive is available to help safeguard against new heartworm exposures and chronic infection, as well as other parasites.
  • If your cat tests positive, monitor them closely at home and follow veterinarian recommendations if you see signs of respiratory distress, coughing or vomiting.