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A personal battle with feline heartworm disease and why cats should be on heartworm prevention


In an interview with dvm360®, Ellen Bishai, DVM, PhD, shares the story of her own cat's ordeal with heartworm disease and makes the case for heartworm prevention in cats.

In 2008, Fuzzy Man—the cat belonging to Ellen Bishai, DVM, PhD—was diagnosed with heartworm disease. After overcoming the disease, as well as a lifetime of other issues, Bishai has become an advocate for heartworm prevention in cats.

Below is a partial transcript. See the full video for more:

Ellen Bishai, VMD, Phd: "Because of my experience, obviously I'll never not put my cats on heartworm prevention ever again. For any disease...if there's more than a 1% chance, that's more than enough for me to protect. With cats and heartworm disease, the risk is more than 1%..."

"[There is a] difference between the heartworm infection in the dog vs the cat is cats, if they even develop the diease [because] some of them will spontaneously get rid of it so they don't actually develop it. If they do, they're not like dogs where they're going to get several worms where they just multiply."

"Dogs are very good hosts for heartworms. Cats are not, so they may only get from 1 to 3 worms total. The way our tests are designed, if we're doing an antigen test, the antigen, as far as we know, is only produced by the female worm. You could hypothetically, because cats don't like to follow rules...If you had a cat that only had a male heartworm infection, you would do the test, and it would be negative. The concern for me is: are we missing it in some cats?"

"For me, if there's something preventative I can do that's not going to hurt the pet...I don't see any reason not to do it."

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