Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito that’s bitten an infected dog or cat. The heartworm cycle begins as larvae work their way into a cat’s heart or lungs, where they develop into adult worms.
Cats tend to become infected during the summer, with heartworms reaching the heart about three to four months later. Consequently, early signs of infection occur most frequently in the late fall and winter.
For cats, heartworm disease can be acute or chronic. In acute cases, infected felines will show no signs of illness and die suddenly. Only a post-mortem veterinary examination can identify heartworm as the cause of death.
Signs of chronic infections include coughing, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting–all of which can be associated with conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, and digestive problems. For this reason, catching it can be tough. Furthermore, treatments for heartworms come with their own risk, so hospitalization may be required.
Ask your veterinarian if preventive medicine is appropriate for your cat.