Feline Heartworm: Fact or Fiction



Hi there, it’s Mickey, reporting in from the drive in movies! On cool weekend evenings my Mommy and Daddy like to take me with them to the movies so we can all spend more time together.

Today, however, Mommy almost didn’t let me come along because I was supposed to put on my Revolution today but I forgot. I put on my travel harness anyway and told her not to worry because it was too cold out for me to get anything and besides, I wasn’t going to go out of the car anyway.

Mommy turned me around and told me to “march yourself right back into the house, mister.” She said that half of the flea infestations she treats are in indoor only cats. She also told me that the rates of heartworm, which are transmitted by mosquito bites, are virtually the same between indoor-only cats and cats that also go outside. I dolike to hunt any of the bugs that get into the house; I guess I never considered they might be hunting metoo!

Mommy said there isn’t a good treatment for heartworm positive cats and that the best treatment they’ve come up with so far is long term steroid administration (which makes you very hungry, overweight, and puts you at higher risk for heart disease, and diabetes to name a few things) or having a cardiologist go into your veins with a special loop so they can try to grab the adult worms living in the vessels around your heart and drag them out of your system. She said that since every unprotected cat, dog, fox, and coyote within a one-mile radius of an infected dog, fox, or coyote is at an 80% risk for developing heartworms she wasn’t impressed by my plant to evade infection by staying in the car.

After Mommy told me all of that, I looked up symptoms of heartworm disease on the intranet and became immediately convinced that I had them! The most common signs of heartworm disease in cats are coughing, chronic vomiting, and sudden death.

Mommy said to quit talking to Dr. Google because he makes me paranoid. She said my dry seasonal cough which occurs more commonly in the evening, is a result of allergic asthma (whew!). She also said that the occasional vomiting I do is a result of the same irritable bowel disease that caused my recent bout of pancreatitis. She checked my pulse and said she was positive I didn’t have sudden death either!

I asked Mommy about taking a heartworm test anyway, just to be sure. She said that heartworm tests in cats are much less accurate than the yearly blood tests that she recommends for dogs. She said that since the current tests have a fairly high percentage of false negatives for cats, they don’t routinely advise them for cats the way they do for dogs.

I complained a little bit more but Mommy put my Revolution on anyway.  After that we put on my harness and it was off to the movies!

Until next time,

Major Mickey Giles Midnight Albers-Brooks –Defender of the Basement, is  the thirteen year old feline prodigy of Drs. Albers and Brooks.  According to his bio he is the handsomest, smartest, and most perfect  cat to ever live. You can see pictures of Mickey in all of his glory  posted around the Portage Animal Clinic where he put  them up so his Mommy could think about him all day while she is at work and he is at  home and surveying the local bird population from his favorite window.

Angela Albers, DVM

Stow Kent Animal Hospital


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