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Anyone have experience with Heartworms?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My Riley tested positive for heartworm infection this week and I'm just wondering if anyone on here has had experience with this in their cats?

His antigen test was negative, meaning he has no adult female worms. His antibody test was positive, meaning he previously had one that died, or still has a male worm or immature larvae worms.

He is on prednisone for the next few weeks (for his coughing) and Heartgard monthly. The asthma-like cough has been his only symptom thankfully.

Of course I am very worried, and just wondered if anyone else has dealt with this?
post #2 of 13
No experience, but I've read that it's being diagnosed far more in cats than previously - before, a lot of times it was misdiagnosed as asthma, because most vets believed heartworm was more prevalent in dogs, especially for those of us up north. I've now got mine on Revolution from spring to fall, just due to the newest findings on feline heartworm.

What does your vet say, and prayers for both of you.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
We just have to wait and see how things go. Hopefully the prednisone will take care of his cough. If not, I'm not sure what the next step is, if any. They can't treat the worms, since the meds are almost 50% fatal to cats. All we can do is treat his symptoms and re-test regularly and hopefully he will be ok.

Also, in case anyone is wondering he is 100% indoor only and we have never seen a mosquito in the apartment but apparently one found its way in at some point and bit him. Riley and Xander are both on monthly Heartgard preventative now and will be from now on. No matter how safe you think they are, there seems to always be something that will sneak by

p.s. I asked her about Revolution like you mentioned, but she said that would be over-medicating them for things they don't need since they don't have fleas or anything else at this time.
post #4 of 13
I had to have blood tests on my two before we put them on Revolution. Mine are indoor cats too, and I've never seen a mosquito inside, but I do leave the screened windows and patio door open when the weather is nice. I just thanked God that I could spare the money for the meds, even though the vet was really careful about not making me feel guilty if I didn't choose to use it, but hey, don't need new shoes, anyway!

Now, my vet did like Revolution, because she said it would take care of everything,, including mosquitos, just in case... I guess that's why medicine is also an art and not a straight science.

But, honestly, ever since I got mine I've subscribed to both the Tufts and Cornell cat bulletins, and the whole heartworm thing has really only recently surfaced, at least it's not like we were totally ignoring standard care protocols. Medcine is always evolving, and some things will just sneak by even the most vigilant parent or vet.
post #5 of 13
The vet suspects it was heartworms that killed my 18 month old feral rescue. Didn't have money for a necropsy at the time, I figured it would be best saved for the living.
They are really bad in this area, and he had been outdoors his first three weeks of life. He was perfectly fine, seemingly healthy when he was with me as I went ot sleep, the next morning I woke up to find him dead. No sign of any trauma, calm expression on his face, he had just fallen over dead.
post #6 of 13
this is exactly what happened to my cat 2 months ago. He was only 15 months old and had no health problems and one day my boyfriend came home and found him dead next to his kitty friend. It was horrible, so unexpected. Poor little guy died way too young.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
That is my worst fear
post #8 of 13
Originally Posted by AlleyGirl View Post
That is my worst fear
It was pretty traumatic for me, but apparantly a very easy passing for him. I'd rather have it easy for them, as they all went through enough before they came to me. He didn't even look surprised, let alone afraid or in pain.
post #9 of 13
I had two that were heartworm positive. They were also indoor only and we lived in a 100 percent endemic area for dogs.

Lily died from a worm embolism to her lungs. Zoe survived the die off. Only treatment for her was Revolution. She is now 14 and was exposed 10 years ago. Zoe was positive with the antigen test.

What I learned at the time is that it is the die off that is most critical for cats. Because of their small size just a couple of worms can cause embolisms. I don't know if this is still the case, but back then they thought that heartworms did not reproduce in cats, so they would get infected but not have the massive overgrowth like dogs. It was a waiting game to see if they survived the worms natural death.
post #10 of 13
I lost my 5 yr old Junior to feline heartworm disease 3 weeks ago. He'd been losing weight for awhile, not himself, developed flu-like symptoms and after $700 in tests found out about the heartworms. Treated with Prednisone and antibiodics. Then over the course of 3 weeks he developed a lot of brerathing issues, retinal bleeding, and finally kidney failure, which is when I realized we'd lost the fight.
Keep us posted. my vet said in 13 yrs and over 2,000 cats a year, Junior is only the 3rd with feline heartworm their office has had, and that he thinks a lot of the time when cats die suddenly (like some described above) it may be due to heartworms - just 2 or 3 in a cat can kill, whereas 50 in a dog is still treatable.
My heart goes out to you and your furry family member.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you. So far he is doing well, with the occasional wheezing/coughing as his only symptom. He has been taking oral prednisone for that. I'm so sorry about your Junior
post #12 of 13
I'm just curious, is it possible for kittens to have a heartworm infection that causes symptoms?
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Lizita View Post
I'm just curious, is it possible for kittens to have a heartworm infection that causes symptoms?
How old is the kitten?

Heartworm is transmitted only from a mosquito bite, they can't get it from other animals so it would depend on the kitten's situation.
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