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Heartworm in kitties!??

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I was just doing some reading on cat health to try and figure out what's going on with Rambo, and I stumbled across an article on heartworm in cats. Rambo's symptoms fit alot with the symptoms of heartworm including: the coughing, breathing difficulty, vomiting, sluggishness and weightloss (Rambo lost 1kg over the course of 1 month). He has all of those. THe only different symptom from his first occurence of the illness was the blisters/sores in his throat. he was never diagnosed this first time, he was just treated as if it was calicivirus.

If it was calicivirus, would it be reoccurring this soon (less then 1month after). Maybe I'm just grasping at straws here, but has anyone had any experience with heartworms in cats?? How are they diagnosed (i.e. do they show up on an x-ray?)
post #2 of 6
First of all, has he ever been tested for FeLV/FIV? Cats that are postive often (not all the time) will develop oral ulcers.

As far as the heartworm goes, diagnosing HW disease in cats is like diagnosing FIP in cats, there really isn't a difinitive test. There are a few options that the vet can take to put all the puzzle pieces together.

First, they can run a HW antibody/antigen combo test along with a CBC/Profile. The Profile will show general organ function, the CBC will look at RBC's & WBC's (there is one WBC that responds to parasites, so if that were to be high, it would be a suggestion of possibly internal parasites).

The heartworm tests aren't as difinitive as the K9 HW tests.

For the Antibody test, if the cat had ever been exposed to heartworms, it will show up positive, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they currently have a HW infection. The antigen test will only test positive if there is a sexually mature female worm. So, the cat could be positive with 1 or 2 male worms, and it would come back negative, but, if that test came back positive, it would definitely be positive. (Hope this all makes sense.)

X-rays and ultrasound can also be used as a diagnostic tool, but it won't be too obvious, so it would definitely need a trained eye to spot anything significant. My dr. has had a special interest in US for over 20 years and he has seen an actual heartworm on a few feline patients, but that is a pretty rare experience.

I don't know positively, but I'm pretty sure that there may be a diagnostic test for calicivirus, maybe a PCR test? I'll have to check that at work tomorrow and get back to you.

I hope this helps a little.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for posting! Rambo is back at the vet for the day. They are going to run a general health profile blood test to check just about everything. He was tested for FIV/FELV when he was about 4 months old and he was negative. He's also been vaccinated for calicivirus and FELV. That makes it seem strange that he has calici (though i know it could be a new strain, but the vet was surprised by just how sick he was). ANd of course how the reddness in his throat never really went away....and is now back again causing problems. The weight loss concerns me, and I worry that I missed signs that he wasn't eating properly. Rambo has always been my vaccuum cleaner when it came to eating (cleaned his plate and everyone elses). But after watching him closely the last few days, he struggles to eat a few bites and then wanders off (in which case someone else eats his). He's down to 4.7kg from 5.6 2 months ago. (5.1 the week before he got sick).

I'm going to go and do some more reading on FIV and other illnesses to see what I can come up with.

thank you again
post #4 of 6
How old is he now?

As far as the FeLV/FIV goes, both viruses have an "incubation" period in which they won't show up on the test. We always run recheck tests 3 months after the initial just to be safe.

Hopefully the vet can find out a little more on what is going on with him. I am sure his mouth and throat are pretty sore.

Good luck, keep me posted!
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Rambo's 1.5 years old. He was never re-checked, but has been wonderfully healthy until about 2 months ago when he developed a UTI, followed 1 month later but the onset of these symptoms (about a week before these symptoms his eye swelled up, the following day it went down and the other eye swelled up...no idea where that came from). Connected?? I have no idea...hopefully the blood tests will show something. If not...I don't know what to do.
post #6 of 6
Poor Rambo! I'm sure this won't be much help, but Twitch acted much like you are describing Rambo acting before she had her teeth removed. Mouth ulcers and swollen throat, along with being lethargic.

It's a good thing Rambo has you to look after him through all this. He is one lucky kitty.
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