In particular America, but also several other countries around the world, heartworm is a serious issue. I always thought heartworm was a poor cats disease. Homeless and/or mistreated cats, who lived in filthy conditions or who lived outside. When i was watching animal rescue shows on TV, there was always heartworm. However, numbers show that approx. 1/3 of infected cats are actually indoor cats.
The bad culprit spreading the heartworm from infected animals is the mosquito. So even with your cat living inside, even with having screens on all windows and doors, that moskito will find you…and it will find your cat.
What is the problem with the cat getting heat worm you ask? Heartworm is a potentially deadly, that’s why. Worms up to more than one foot long (36cm) live in your cats heart, lungs and blood vessels. They will cause severe lung disease, heart failure and so on.
Heartworm disease is potentially fatal in pets, and is most common in the United States but also in several other other parts of the world (such as Korea). It is caused by long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. The disease is more widespread in dogs than in cats. The cats’ body is not really compatible for the growth of the worms, so they may die or not mature to adult worms. But even just one worm can do significant damage. And because they do not grow very large, the symptoms may be few and difficult to detect until the damage is done. Symptoms may include coughing, vomiting, lack of appetite. And, in worse cases, seizures or sudden death.
If you are still not convinced that it is better to treat it if it happens than to spend the time and money on monthly prevention; know that there is no cure for heart worm in cats. Dogs have an effective drug, but there is currently no drug on the market today for cats. It is possible to use the dog-medicine, but is has some very bad side effects on cats. The medicine consist of cyanide (poison) which in itself can potentially cause death. Also the cat can react to the dead or dying heartworms, for example if they clog the blood vessels. Due to the high risks, the more common way to handle heartworm in cats is simply to treat the symptoms to make kitty more comfortable and hope that the cat lives longer than the heartworms. I trust you now are prepared to make preventative measures? Good.
So in Korea the vets recommend to give a monthly dose of de-worming agent against heartworm; a liquid which is squirted on the back of their neck so that they do not lick it away. Technically the packaging says that the vet is supposed to apply it. But who can afford to go to the vet every month? It is super easy to do, so all the vets here sell the medicine so you can do it at home.
I find several brands of similar medicine being sold worldwide, but in Korea there are two major brands that are being sold (also available in the US); Advocate and Revolution. I started with Revolution, but changed to Advocate because that is what the vet i went to sold when i was out. However, i will as far as possible not use Advocate again. Regarding the effects of the medicine i cannot say i know, but the smell of Advocate is so strong it tears at my nostrils. I don’t even want to imagine what it is like for the cats with their sensitive nose. The smell is very chemical/disinfectant, very unpleasant. It also dries very slowly so petting the cat is difficult for at least a couple of hours, and it seems to burn on contact. I feel like a horrible cat-mother when they jump and run off, and then look at me with their very accusing “you abused me” eyes. No, i will go back to revolution. The medicine will take care of an array of both internal and external parasites, such as fleas, ear mites, hookworms and roundworms.* The medicine is sold based on your cats bodyweight. Talk to your vet, ask if you need this kind of medicine, and which brand he recommends. You should also ask if you need to continue giving the regular de-worming pill in addition. I was told i needed to since the pills take more types of intestinal worms.
Lets keep our pets safe and worm free!
*One of my vets claimed Advocate was the better brand beacuse it gets rid of even more intestinal worms than revolution. i asked which one and she said ringworm. Ringworm is not actually a worm, it is a skin disease, and i cannot find anything on Advocates homepage that they are used in regards to ringworm.