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Cats can get heartworms! This is increasingly being recognized as a serious problem in 38 states and Florida is one of the leaders. Wherever dogs are at risk, cats are at risk, even indoor cats.
Cats and dogs contract heartworms from the bite of a mosquito. Then, over a period of several months, the various stages of the heartworms develop in the cat’s body until the adult heartworms reach maturity and lead to clinical signs. These clinical signs include lethargy, blindness, chronic coughing, respiratory distress, vomiting, and even sudden death.
A reliable diagnostic test is available for determining whether a cat has heartworms and veterinarians are in agreement that prevention is a lot safer that treatment. Fortunately, there are several available medications for heartworm prevention for cats. Two popular types include an oral medication called Heartgard and a topical one called Revolution. They are very effective in preventing the disease in cats (and in dogs). Both medications are once a month, and are extremely safe. Heartgard Chewables was developed specially for cats and their finicky appetite so most cats take to it readily. It is a small chewable treat, slightly larger than an aspirin, which can be broken into several pieces and fed in a dish. Revolution is a topical product that simultaneously treats for fleas, tick, ear mites, and some intestinal worms. Both products require a prescription.
In summary, prevention is definitely the best option. For a few dollars a month, you can prevent a disease for which there is no realistic treatment. Remember, just one mosquito bite can lead to worms that can cause severe debilitating symptoms and even death.