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Heartworm disease used to be thought of as a dog only disease. We now know that although cats aren't a natural host for heartworms, they are often infected and that infections can be life threatening. Indoor as well as outdoor cats are at risk because this dangerous disease is caused by a mosquito bite. Symptoms of heartworm disease can vary, but the most common are asthma symptoms and sudden death.
Testing for heartworm disease in dogs is very straightforward, but in cats that isn't the case. They often only carry 1-3 worms and they can have clinical signs of asthma when the parasite is still a larvae. There are 2 tests in cats. The first is an antibody test. This test checks to see if they have ever been bitten by a mosquito with a heartworm. If it is negative, the cat has never been exposed. However, many cats will test positive, but their body has killed the heartworm before it has caused any problem. The second and more commonly used test is an antigen test. This test only detects female adult worms so if the cat has an immature (larva) worm or an adult male worm it will test negative. If it is positive, it is confirmation that the cat definitely has an adult heartworm infection.
Due to the serious complications of heartworm disease and the ease of prevention, we recommend starting on heartworm prevention when a kitten is only 2 pounds and giving it to them throughout their life. Ask our doctors if you have any questions. We offer bulk discounts (If you buy 8 doses, you will get 4 free. Buy 6 doses and get 2 free).