cat health

Heartworm in cats

Dog owners are rightly concerned about heartworm infections. Heartworm is common throughout Australia and especially in hot and humid areas. Infection can cause serious illness and death in dogs.

But what about cats?

The same worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that infects dogs can also be transmitted to cats and other animals including foxes and ferrets. Transmission is by mosquito bite so your cat does not need to come into direct contact with an infected animal to catch it.

Fortunately, heartworm infection is much less serious in cats.

Cats’ immune systems seem to be better adapted to defeating heartworm. In most cases the infection will disappear without the cat showing symptoms.

In the rare occurrence that an infection takes hold, the symptoms can include vomiting of blood or food, diarrhoea, coughing and breathing difficulties. It is easy to confuse these symptoms with other serious conditions such as asthma so trip to the vet is called for if they appear.

Unlike dogs, there is no widely accepted treatment for heartworm in infected cats.

So what should you do?

Studies have shown that heartworm In cats is most common in areas that have high rates of infection in dogs. Also global warming is leading to the appearance of increasing numbers of mosquitoes that were previously uncommon in southern states. If you live in such an area it may be worth seeking out a preventative that includes heartworm protection along with that for fleas and intestinal worms.

You can read Feline Heartworm in Clinical Settings in a High Canine Prevalence Area .

A number of veterinary practices can also be found via your search engine that will provide facts and advice – and you can always raise the issue with your own vet on your next visit.

Cat Health Grants are now available

If you are looking for a partner to fund your research into cat health, we may be what you need.

The Feline Health Research Fund makes grants of up to $10,000 from it’s pool of  donations from cat lovers, professionals and the industry to fund quality Australian research into issues affecting the health, wellbeing and longevity of domestic cats.

We are encouraging applications from a range of disciplines into a wide range of health issues for domestic cats.

For more information please go to the Applying for a Grant page on our website.  There you can download the Small Grants Application Form, read the Grant FAQs and check out details of previously funded projects.

The window for this grant round opens on the 1st of August and closes at 5pm on the 31st of August, 2022.

If you have questions after reading the website information, please email the Secretary, Feline Health Research Fund.

The second part of our cat pregnancy series, on cat birthing and aftercare, will be published next week.

Please feel free to forward this email to associates and colleagues with an interest in feline health research.