Heartworms (picture)

- Cats become infected only 5 - 20% of the times that dogs become infected. However, when they do acquire heartworms, cats react more severely to them. Because their hearts are so much smaller than those of the dog, just a few worms can cause a lot of damage in cats.

- When they do show signs, they are so variable that they do not point specifically to heartworms. Signs can range from simple lethargy, loss of appetite, and coughing to vomiting blood, having difficulty breathing, and sudden death-can appear normal an hour before death

- up to 10 inches long, cats usually only infected with three to four because of small heart

- carried by mosquitos (life cycle)

- 2/3 of heartworm cases in cats are outdoor/feral cats

- no completely reliable tests for heartworms in cats, though they are working on it

- radiography (X-rays), ultrasound of the heart and lungs, and blood tests,

- treatment is often dangerous, the death of the heartworm itself can cause a heart attack

- sometimes surgery is necessary, consult a vet!

*very little info, up until a decade ago, or so, vets were told that cats were immune to heart worms