If you have a beloved pet it’s likely that you’ve heard about the dangers of heartworms. Heartworms can attack both dogs and cats, but dogs in general are more prone to developing heartworms because of their outdoor activities. Since heartworms are more commonly found in dogs, some cat owners (especially those with indoor cats) don’t feel the need to take precautions to protect their cats from the parasites. Many cat owners are aware of the danger of heartworms, but some don’t know the difference between heartworm myths and facts or about proper heartworm treatment. Don’t let a popular heartworm myth hurt your animal’s health, learn to separate fact from fiction by learning about common myths and misconceptions people have about cats and heartworms.
Myth: Your Cat Can Give Heartworms to Other Cats
You may be tempted to keep your kitty away from other cats because you’re worried about your pet infecting others, but you can let Fluffy play with her beloved friends. Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites, it would be impossible for your cat to infect another cat with the parasite.
Myth: Heartworms Develop Fast and Can be Detected within Days
After your cat is bitten by an infected mosquito, it can take seven months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once they’re mature they lodge themselves into the cat’s heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels in order to start reproducing. Heartworms can live for up to 2-3 years in your cat, and if you wait a long time to get your cat treated it’ll be very difficult to get rid of.
Myth: Cats Infected with Heartworms Never Show Symptoms of Infection
When your cat is first infected they won’t show any symptoms of heartworm infestation, but as time goes on you’ll start to see them. Many cats will develop a cough after the worms mature because the worms burrow into their lungs. Your cat may also be less active and exercise less because of the strain the worms put on its lungs.
Myth: Heartworms Don’t Occur in My Area
In the past heartworm infections usually occurred in warm and humid areas of the United States, but now thanks to warmer weather and other factors heartworm infections can happen in any of the 50 states.
Myth: Heartworms Are a Seasonal Problem
Since mosquitos are the carriers for the heartworm parasite some people believe that heartworm infection can only occur during the summer months when mosquitos are more common. Heartworm infections don’t wait for heat waves, all the parasite needs is a temperature of 57 degrees or higher in order to develop into its infective state. Cats should definitely be checked and get heartworm treatment when necessary.