Cayman cats at risk of heartworm, warns vet

| 15/04/2019 | 4 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): A newly published study about heartworm in cats in the Cayman Islands by Dr Brandy Darby from St Matthew’s University has been published in the Journal of Feline Medicine. It revealed that at least 11% of feral cats had adult heartworms present on necropsy and another 27% of cats showed evidence of exposure to immature forms of the parasite, indicating that heartworm disease is a very common and real threat to cats on the islands. While many people are aware of the threat heartworm poses to dogs, the same does not apply when it comes to cats.

“We felt it is important to try and raise general awareness about heartworm disease and cats because the disease prevalence was actually quite high on our survey,” Dr Darby said in a release about the study. “Cats can be protected from heartworm disease with preventive medication, just like dogs, so we hope this is something that cat owners will talk with their veterinarians about.”

Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted to dogs and cats from mosquitoes, so even indoor-only cats are at risk, as mosquitoes will commonly enter the home. The larval stages do not develop into mature forms of the parasite as often in cats as they do in dogs but immature forms of the parasite can cause serious respiratory disease in cats, the vet explained.

Signs include coughing, exercise intolerance, intermittent vomiting and sudden death. Infection with even one worm can kill a cat but it is completely preventable.

This first-ever scientific study to explore the prevalence of the infection within the feral cat population on Grand Cayman was conducted with the support of the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture.

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Category: Health, Pet health

Comments (4)

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  1. Anon says:

    It’s been estimated that every year in the UK, the 9 million cats kill around 60 million birds.
    Nasty, vicious, cruel little bastards,.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Thinning the herd. Natures way of handling over population.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    What other viruses,bacterias and parasites are brewing in the Dump to be transmitted by mosquitoes, birds and rodents to human and pets while Caymanians focused on gay marriage.

    I have a question for the 10th time, where and how 500,000 + dead iguanas are being disposed? Why? Read my first paragraph.

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  4. satirony says:

    This is another good reason not to release cats into the wild, where they cause tremendous damage to our wildlife. In Australia, some feral cats were fitted with cameras. It was discovered that that each cat averaged 5 kills in every 24 hours, a total of 1,800 kills per year. In Grand Cayman feral cats have caused a severe depletion of our Caribbean Doves. These birds are especially vulnerable, as they spend most of their time feeding on the ground. In Cayman Brac cats killed 6 percent of the Brown Booby chicks last year. This sort of damage will soon lead to the extirpation of these two species in our islands, where we have already lost the Jamaican Oriole as well as the Grand Cayman Thrush. Cats kill many of our migratory birds and young Blue Iguanas, too.

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