A large, parasitic worm that lives and reproduces inside the heart of a cat, generally in the right side of the heart and the lung. Heartworms are transported from one animal to another, through mosquitos . . .
Surfing the Web, I found a very comprehensive page devoted to feline heartworm at the American Heartworm Society. I also found a great summary of heartworm problems in both dogs and cats in About.com's veterinary section. I read this intriguing Q&A on feline heartworm from a vet. I even landed on some disgusting pictures of heartworms eating away at a cat's heart, but I'll spare you the link to that. Let's just say that I'll never look at spaghetti the same way again.
Here's a quick summary of the things I learned from those articles and others:
- Cats are at much lower risk (10% as likely) to get heartworm than dogs
- However, once heartworm is contracted, most treatments for cats are ineffective.
- Indoor-only cats are less likely to get heartworm, but it is possible
- Several prevention products, most notably Heartgard, can be administered during mosquito season.
So my question is this: would it hurt to give my boys a treatment like Heartgard? Is there a long-term risk or side effect? If not, I'd like to get the boys on a program, because, even if the risk is tiny, it's not a risk worth taking.