Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.

Cats need heartworm protection

Although more common in dogs, heartworm can also cause life-threatening illness in cats. Dr. Lee offers tips on heartworm prevention for cats.

Cats need heartworm protection

Q: I give my dog a chewable heartworm pill every month throughout the year. Can cats get heartworms? Should I give my indoor cat, Big Bertha, a heartworm preventive, too?

A: Yes, and yes.

Mosquitos, which transmit heartworms to dogs and cats in all 50 states, manage to get inside people’s homes, so even indoor cats should be protected.

Cats are relatively resistant to heartworms, so in a given geographic location, cats are infected only 5 to 20 percent as often as dogs. Still, cats need to be protected, because infection with a single worm or even just the immature heartworm larvae can cause serious disease and death. Moreover, the arsenic-like drug used to treat heartworm-infected dogs is fatal to cats.

A heartworm preventive will protect Bertha from this life-threatening disease that causes much more severe clinical signs in cats than in dogs. Monthly heartworm preventives are applied to the cat’s skin (Revolution or Advantage Multi) or given orally as a chewable tablet (Interceptor or Heartgard for Cats).

Infected cats can develop heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD), a chronic condition characterized by coughing and labored breathing. HARD, which mimics asthma and chronic bronchitis, often ends in death. Other infected cats die suddenly, without prior clinical signs.

Talk with your veterinarian about starting Bertha on a heartworm preventive this spring.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

  • Instagram logo
  • facebook
  • tiktok
  • Twitter

No one is permitted to sell, solicit or negotiate an insurance policy without a producer license in the state in which the plan is sold, and all prospects should be directed to Figo Pet Insurance. The information contained in this website is for illustrative purposes only and coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions (including pre-existing conditions), and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Coverage underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (IAIC), a Delaware Insurance Company, 485 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Live Vet and the Figo Pet Cloud are separate non-insurance services unaffiliated with IAIC.

Copyright © 2015-2022 Figo Pet Insurance LLC. All rights reserved