Currently, there is no drug approved for treating heartworms in cats. If you have a cat and want to know the specifics of heartworm disease and your feline family member, this blog is for you.


More than one test is required to confirm heartworm disease because no one consistent test works every time. We will usually use a mixture of looking at clinical signs and doing blood tests to diagnose.

Why heartworms are often undiagnosed in cats:

  1. Most heartworms die before an antigen test can confirm a diagnosis
  2. Signs of heartworm differ significantly and are not disease-specific

If The Heartworms Die, Why Does Diagnosis Matter?

Even though cats are most commonly infected with immature worms, they can still cause a lot of damage.

When a cat has heartworms, it can develop a lung disease called Heartworm-Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). The symptoms are similar to asthma or allergic bronchitis. If your cat is coughing often and you aren’t sure why, schedule an appointment so we can see if heartworms are part of the problem.

The presence of worms can also cause an irregular heart rhythm or murmur, and even death.

5 Differences Between Heartworm Disease in Cats and Dogs

  1. Heartworm life span is potentially longer in cats than dogs. Though, most heartworms die 3 to 4 months after infection, never growing into an adult.
  2. Heartworms are less common in cats than they are in dogs.
  3. Cats typically have fewer heartworms than dogs.
  4. Heartworms are harder to diagnose in a cat than a dog.
  5. The treatment medication for dogs is unsafe for cats – early diagnosis is key.

There is no 100% safe or sure treatment for your cat if they get infected with heartworms. Prevention is the best way to keep your cats safe from the potentially devastating effects. Learn more about our recommendations for heartworm prevention , and always be sure to complete the recommended testing for your cat to catch heartworms as early as possible.

Has your cat had their Annual Wellness Check this year? Schedule an appointment today.

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Animal Family Veterinary Care offers an extensive range of services all in one place, so we can meet your pet’s needs in almost every situation. Our veterinarians in Davenport treat dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and a variety of other exotic species, because every pet is unique and important.