Hidden killers: undiagnosed feline heartworm disease

Grey cat

Heartworm disease can be fatal to cats.

There is no cure for the serious lung damage seen with feline heartworm disease, but in a recent study, REVOLUTION ® (selamectin) prevented it. 1

Feline heartworm disease facts:

  • Parasite larvae are transmitted to cats by infected mosquitoes
  • Heartworms affect cats differently than dogs2
  • Infection is very difficult to diagnose in cats
  • Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk
  • Heartworm larvae can lead to significant damage in a cat’s lungs1
  • A single adult heartworm can be fatal to a cat
Revolution Cat Package
Cat coughing

In cats, heartworm disease is a lung disease

Coughing and other respiratory signs in cats can be due to a variety of things such as hairballs, feline asthma, bronchitis, and even parasites like heartworms.

In recent years, veterinary researchers have linked coughing in some cats to feline heartworm disease. 1,2

Unlike heartworms in dogs, feline heartworm disease is primarily focused in the lungs. Heartworm larvae cause lesions and inflammation in the lungs’ blood vessels. The lung damage is severe and often irreversible. This condition is known to veterinarians as HARD: Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease.

Indoor cat

Even indoor cats are susceptible to parasites

Chances are that your cat’s life includes at least one of the risk factors listed below.

  • Approximately 25% of cats diagnosed with adult heartworms were considered indoor cats.4
  • About 15% of commercial potting soil contains viable roundworm eggs,5 and cats that play in houseplants could ingest these eggs while grooming.
  • Cats skilled at mousing or "roach patrol" may catch a lot more than they bargained for: Household cockroaches, snails, slugs, earthworms and rodents are often carriers or hosts for many common internal and external parasites that threaten your cat.
  • One health hazard for cats can be their very own litter box, especially if it’s not cleaned daily. Some feline intestinal parasites that live here can also cause disease in people.

Your cat deserves proven protection, and you can provide it with REVOLUTION — the leader in feline parasite protection from fleas, heartworms, roundworms ( Toxocara cati), hookworms ( Ancylostoma tubaeforme) and ear mites. 3

Prevention is the best solution to feline parasites

  • Medication: Regular use of REVOLUTION can protect your cat from many common internal and external parasites. In fact, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), a well-respected panel of veterinary parasitology experts, recommends year-round parasite protection for all cats.
  • Routine Checkups: Once standard kitten veterinary visits are complete, continue taking your cat for annual examinations to maintain a high quality of life.

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For additional information on parasites and their consequences, speak with your veterinarian or locate a nearby clinic via Vetstreet's search tool.

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Do not use REVOLUTION on sick, weak, or underweight cats. Use only on cats 8 weeks and older. Side effects may include digestive upset and temporary hair loss at application site with possible inflammation. In people, REVOLUTION may be irritating to skin and eyes. Wash hands after use. See full Prescribing Information.

1 Dillon AR, Tillson DM, Wooldridge A, et al. Heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD): induction and reversibility relative to tissue larval stage and Wolbachia status. In: Heartworms Today; The Search for Solutions: Proceedings of the 2013 Triennial Symposium, New Orleans, LA, September 8-10, 2013. Wilmington, DE: American Heartworm Society; 2013: 30-31.
2 Blagburn BL, Dillon AR. Feline heartworm disease: Solving the puzzle. Vet Med. March 2007 (suppl);7 -14.
3 VetInsite™ Analytics 2014. Zoetis Data on File.
4 Guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, and management of heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) infection in cats. January 2014;10. Available at: http://www.heartwormsociety.org/pdf/2014-AHS-Feline-Guidelines.pdf. Accessed May 21, 2014.
5 The Veterinary Record, February 18, 2006.


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