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Heartworms were once thought to be rare in cats. Now we know the incidence is anywhere from 10% to 50% of the canine rate. Heartworm disease in cats is different than in dogs. Cats usually test negative on the routine blood test done in the hospital, and the worms are smaller and usually do not produce microfilaria (immature heartworms that circulate in the bloodstream). Veterinarians have to do different tests to diagnose heartworms in cats.

The symptoms in cats are different also. Cats usually have asthma signs or cough, even vomit. Cats can die acutely. There is not a treatment for adult heartworms in cats. Many veterinarians, including Dr. Hubbard, are now recommending monthly heartworms preventative for cats in addition to dogs, since heartworms are such a serious problem. RVC carries and highly recommends one topical feline heartworm preventive, which also protects cats against fleas, ear mites, hookworms, and feline roundworms.

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