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Heartworms and Cats: How to Choose the Best Preventative For My Cat

Despite its name, Heartworm Disease is primarily a lung disease in cats causing cough, chronic inflammation, and even scarring within the lungs due to the presence of 2" long immature larval worms. In some cats with the 8"or more long adult heartworm, sometimes the only symptom is sudden death due to a massive allergic reaction.

Heartworms spread through infected mosquitos and infect cats nearly as often as dogs. Yes, even indoor cats! Some studies show as many as 30% of strictly indoor cats test positive for heartworm exposure. And, given the number of different mosquito species that can carry the worm (as well as differences in their lifestyle, preferred body temperatures, and micro-climates in and around our homes), it's not surprising to think that while you may not have seen the mosquito, your cat might have.

Unfortunately, treatment is difficult and cure is not possible. Many times we have to rely on controlling the symptoms, often with steroids and other medications that may also have side effects. But, prevention is both easy and cheap. Due to the changes in weather patterns over the last decades and the spread of the disease, parasitologists are recommending monthly year-round prevention in order to avoid inadvertent lapses that could lead to a breakthrough infection.

Cat Hospital of Chicago offers the following preventatives listed below for purchase. Each has certain plus points enumerated below. If you have additional questions about which product is right for your cat, please email us at nurses@cathospitalofchicago.com.

  1. Heartgard: monthly beef flavored chew
    • Very inexpensive
    • Good choice for the rare cat who has skin sensitivities preventing the use of a topical product
  2. Revolution: monthly topical drops applied to the back of the neck
    • Broad spectrum parasite treatment
    • Best for patients with food allergies or who don't like chewy treats
    • Best for patients at risk of flea exposure
      • those who go outside
      • those who live with a dog
      • those who live in a building that allows dogs
      • those whose owners feed outdoor stray/feral cats
    • Best for families with immunocompromised family members
      • chemo patient
      • auto-immune illness
      • children or the elderly
    • Best for cats who like eating bugs (which carry other parasites)
    • Best for cats in homes with lots of plants/cat grass or who spend time in the yard (15% of potting soil contains roundworm eggs)
    • Treats against roundworms and hookworms
    • Treats ear mites and fleas

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