Tuesday 5 August 2008

Cat heartworm

Cat heartworm is so named because the adult worms live in the right hand side of the heart. The situation rarely occurs in cats but much more in dogs.

The worm gets inside the cat's body via the bite of a mosquito. The saliva of the mosquito carries infective larvae.

The larvae burrow into the cat's tissue. Over a period of a few months, the larvae develop into adult but small worms and then make their way to the cat's heart via the veins. Sometimes but rarely in cats an adult heartworm will produce larvae that circulate in the blood stream.

A cat's heart is small so one or two heartworms can result in severe heart problems.

The symptoms of Cat heartworm are:

---a cough which occurs when the cat is active or exercises

---a lethargic cat

---loss of weight

---poor coat condition

---blood in the sputum (sputum is the matter from the respiratory [breathing] tract)

--later symptoms are heavy (labored) breathing and congestive heart failure

The treatment for Cat heartworm is:

---drugs to kill the worms. The drugs are dangerous to the cat.

Prevention is:

---based on avoiding mosquito bites. Mosquitoes generally live on and near swamps and brackish water near coastlines. Although, that said, I have killed mosquitoes in the middle of London. I guess there are pools of water nearby. Mosquitoes can have a range of about 400 yards. A cattery near a swamp would seem to be a bad idea.

Reducing the chance of being bitten could include:

---reducing the breeding habitat

---mosquito nets (not really practical for cats).

---spraying pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes

---using natural predators to eat mosquitoes such as dragon fly

---moving away from mosquito breeding habitat

{there is obviously no substitute for a veterinarian's diagnosis, prognosis and treatment}

Cat heartworm to cat anatomy

Cat heartworm - Sources:
  • Wikipedia
  • Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

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