Cat Heart Worm Disease – An Overview

August 30, 2011 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Diseases

Heartworm disease is more common in dogs than in cats but still it is extremely dangerous to the cats. The symptoms of cat heart worm disease may range from mild to severe. The disease will be fatal if cardiac and respiratory complications set in. The male cats are more prone to heart worm infestation than the female cats as they roam about more. The cats that spend their most of the time out doors and the cats that live in mosquito infested area are at high risk,

Life cycle of the parasite

Cat Heart worm is a parasite and the size of the same will not be more than a piece of spaghetti. This parasite can survive in the right side of the heart as well as the blood vessels. The adult worm produces young ones and keeps growing in size.

In cats, these heart worms can live for 2 years. These worms will b freely floating in the blood of the right ventricle of the heart. The pulmonary blood vessels are connected to the right ventricle of the heart and play a major role in the respiration. These parasites will disturb the function of the pulmonary blood vessels and as the result the oxygen supply will be reduced. This reduced level of oxygen will result in breathing difficulty.

If the number of worms is more they can even completely block the pulmonary blood vessel. The parasites can migrate into the other parts of the body thus disturbing their function too.



The symptoms of the cat heart worm infestation can be chronic or acute in nature. In acute condition there can be nervous or pulmonary problems. The cat may be coughing consistently all of a sudden. There can be vomiting and anorexia and the cat will lose weight gradually. The cat will be very weak and will have severe depression. The depression will be so severe that the cat will have sudden mood swings and in some worst case the cat may die all of a sudden.


In chronic cases, there can be pulmonary disorders of episodic nature. Gastrointestinal problems can also be noticed at times. There can also be congestive heart failure. The affected cats must be attended to as early as possible because the disease may take the life out of the cat. In case of breathing difficulty, the cat needs to be rushed to the nearby vet hospital.


The heart worm disease of cats can be diagnosed by heart worm antigen test, called as knotts test. This test will detect the specific protein released by the sexually mature female heart worm. The test is good but it may miss to detect the protein if only few female parasites are present. The affected cat’s blood is drawn and treated with few chemicals and the blood cells are broken and centrifuged. The sediment is examined for the presence of parasite particles and protein to confirm the heart worm infestation.


The treatment for this cat heart worm infestation is very controversial and hence the veterinarian should be approached for help if the symptoms suggest the cat heart worm infestation.

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