Can You Get Multi-Cat Insurance?

Pet insurance can allow you to provide the best medical care possible for your cat in the case of an emergency or any medical problem that can occur. Pet insurance often has a deductible and after that is met, it will cover a percentage of your veterinary bills. The percent that the insurance company covers will depend on the company and the policy you choose. Policies generally cover anywhere from 70% to 100% of the bill after the deductible. Your deductible can be anything from zero to $2000 depending on the company.

Cat owners with multiple kitties commonly ask about multi-pet insurance and how to get coverage if they have more than one cat.

What You Should Know About Multi-Cat Insurance

Below are some important points to know about multi-pet insurance for cats:

  • If you have more than one cat and desire pet insurance for each cat, you can have one policy with multiple cats. This is similar to human health insurance. You have a policy for you and anyone in your family on the same policy. The more people on your policy, the more expensive the monthly premium. Depending on the company, you may be able to have different coverages for each pet or you may be required to have the same coverage for all pets.
  • Many pet insurance companies offer discounts. Some have military discounts, multi-pet discounts, discounts for automatic payments through your bank account, and more depending on the company. If you are looking for multi-pet insurance, ask specifically about those discounts. Multi-cat discounts may range from 5% to 15% for most companies.
  • It is important to understand that no pet insurance company will cover pre-existing conditions. For example, if your cat is diagnosed with feline leukemia virus before you get a policy, nothing related to the medical problem of feline leukemia will be covered.
  • Another example is diabetes mellitus. If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes prior to getting the pet insurance policy, all diagnostic tests and treatments related to diabetes will not be covered. In addition, treatment for conditions related to diabetes will not be covered. For example, cataracts are a common complication of diabetes and are likely not to be covered if the diabetes were a pre-existing condition.
  • However, if your cat is injured from a bite wound, then everything related to that problem will be covered.
  • One caveat to this rule is a condition that is “curable”. For example, if your kitten had its paw caught in the door and had a small abrasion which was treated, then that would be considered cured. Future traumas would be covered by your policy.
  • The very best time to get pet insurance is when your cat is young and healthy because pre-existing conditions are not covered. However, if you decide later to get pet insurance, that is okay as well as long as you know that any condition that was diagnosed with your cat will NOT be covered. If you get your cat pet insurance when he or she is young and healthy and has no prior problems then everything will be covered for your cat.
  • Pet insurance policies and coverage for cats vary greatly from company to company. The key variables that impact the monthly or yearly premium include what is covered or not covered, limitations, your deductible, copay, and more. It can be confusing to understand how deductibles and copay work. Here is a very good article that explains everything – go to How Does Pet Insurance Work?
  • The only limitation on getting pet insurance for more than one cat is your cat’s age. Some pet insurance companies have limitations on covering older pets. Other companies will insure a cat at any age. If you have an older cat, please ask the company you choose about their rules.

In summary, your ability to purchase pet insurance for more than one cat is up to you. The only limitation could be the age of your cat and your ability to afford premiums for multiple cats. Pet insurance can be more affordable than what you think. Get a quote here.

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Pet Health Insurance:

All About Exotic Cat Breeds

All About Exotic Cat Breeds

While you may love the majestic beauty of the lion, the tiger and the cheetah, you would never have them as pets. These wild cats are too dangerous to be kept as pets. But that desire to own a wild animal is what drove cat breeders to develop exotic cat breeds. These exotic cat breeds fulfill the desire for an exotic cat without the inherent danger.

When it comes to exotic cat breeds, the word “exotic” means that the cat is a wild species, or part wild (hybrids). These exotic cat breeds are wild, not domestic. Most of these species are extremely difficult if not impossible to litter train or house break. And spraying throughout the house by both males and females is a given.

Oftentimes an owner cannot handle the activity level, size and often destructive behavior of these exotic cat breeds. So be careful and think it through before jumping into ownership of an exotic cat breed.

Here are some of the most common exotic cat breeds.

Savannah

This is a relatively new breed that was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2012. To create a Savannah cat, you must cross a domestic house cat with an African Serval. A Savannah is the largest of all domestic cats. It has an unusual appearance with an exotic spotted and striped coat. The Savannah can leap great distances. They are intelligent and curious creatures. It is illegal to own a Savannah in some states.

Bengal

Developed by crossing small Asian leopard cats with domestic cats, the Bengal looks like a leopard but it has the disposition of a domestic cat. This is a large cat with distinctive markings. Their stunning coats come in many patterns including spots, marbled and rosettes.

Abyssinian

With its unique ticked coat, the Abyssinian looks like an African wildcat. This cat is playful, intelligent and energetic.

Toyger

The Toyger is the result of trying to breed a house cat that looks like a tiger. This registered breed traces its lineage to domestic shorthairs and Bengals selected for their markings.

Ocicat

Resembling an ocelot in appearance, the Ocicat actually has no ocelot or any wild cat in its family tree. The breeder bred together cats with Abyssinian, Siamese and American shorthair lineages. Ocicats come in a variety of colors. They are best known for their spots, which can be tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender or fawn in color. This is a very social cat – there’s nothing wild about it.

Bombay

The Bombay looks like a miniature black panther, but don’t let that fool you. He has a calm and easy-going personality. This exotic breed was developed by crossing sable Burmese with black American Shorthairs.

Chausie

The Chausie was developed from hybrids of the Asian Jungle Cat. The average Chausie weighs in at around 18 pounds, but they can grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as 35 pounds.

Egyptian Mau

This exotic cat has a beautiful spotted coat and exotic mascara markings around the eyes. The breed, which originated in Egypt, probably descended from an African wildcat. The Egyptian Mau can run up to 30 mph.

Cheetoh

This is a fairly new breed of house cat. Crossing a Bengal and an Ocicat, it was developed in an attempt to breed a cat that looks like more of a wild cat but is still a gentle house pet. The Cheetoh is a very large cat. Healthy males can reach a weight of 23 pounds. This cat is tame and as safe around children as any other house cat.

Serengeti

The Serengeti cat is the result of breeding that was meant to resemble a wild Serval, but it does not contain any Serval bloodline. The first Serengeti cat was a cross between a Bengal and an Oriental shorthair. Since then, the progeny have been bred with many other types of cats to improve the breed – but never a Serval. The Serengeti cat has long ears and long legs. The exotic breed is active, agile and vocal.

Somali

This long-haired variety of the Abyssinian also has the appearance of an African wildcat. It has a bushy tail like a fox. This cat is very active, not a lap cat. The Somali has a clever and curious nature.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

What You Need to Know About Legal Exotic Cats

The smaller sized exotic cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not animals that would tend to prey on humans. These legal exotic cats can make reasonable pets for the right owners, but they’re not for everyone. Let us tell you about some of the more popular exotic cat species that can legally be kept as pets in the United States.

Wild cat breeds are quite expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000. Also, the amount of money that you would have to spend on care and upkeep with legal exotic cats is much higher than you would pay for a regular cat breed. Veterinary expenses can also add up quickly as these cats require special health care from a veterinarian specializing in zoo animals.

If you are interested in owning one of these animals, you should find out about your state’s laws regarding the keeping of exotic cats.

Here are some of the most popular exotic cats.

Servals

Originating in Africa, servals are popular legal exotic cats in the USA. The serval has a spotted coat and its legs are long in comparison to its body. Some will compare the serval to a cheetah because of its appearance, but in actuality it is much shorter than a cheetah.

The serval is a medium-sized cat. Aloof and quiet, they will flee from average-sized humans and have never been known to kill a human. They prefer small animal prey such as birds, rodents or small antelopes.

The serval cat is not an avid climber, and as such it is easier to confine than some other legal exotic cats. It communicates primarily by hissing and on average will eat two to three pounds of meat a day.

Ocelot

Native to South America, the ocelot is a small wild cat with beautiful markings. These legal exotic cats are very rare in the pet trade, so they are difficult to acquire. Compared to other wild cats, they are more challenging to maintain as pets. An ocelot will not pay attention to disciplinary commands.

Bobcats

This stocky, medium-sized cat is native to North America. Of all the legal exotic cats, the bobcat will bond strongly with their owners. But bobcats possess the strength to kill an adult human. They are short and muscular, and they hunt fully-grown deer in the wild. This legal exotic cat should be heavily supervised around children or kept away from them altogether.

When a bobcat is raised in captivity, it can become lovable. Bobcats can even be friends with deer when raised with them since kittens. They are also very affectionate to dogs.

But never forget that bobcats are not harmless. They have their times of aggression, which is why they should be kept in a large, sturdy outdoor cage during these times.

Canadian Lynx

Native to the northern parts of North America, the Canadian Lynx has thick fur and is prone to shedding.

These legal exotic cats are active climbers, and they prefer to be at high points in the home. Because this is a climbing animal, their enclosures should be designed appropriately to contain the cat.

While the Canadian lynx does not form a devoted relationship with their human, they are easy going (their temperamental fits are less severe) and good with strangers. This cat is not eager to go on walks.

There is also a Siberian lynx which is a little different from the Canadian lynx.

Caracals

Native to Africa and Asia, the caracal is a type of lynx with a personality similar to a serval. Fully grown it will stand 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder and it will weigh 30 to 50 pounds.

Caracals communicate primarily by hissing, which can sound threatening. But they are somewhat well mannered with a traditional cat attitude. These legal exotic cats are known to play and interact with their owners, but strictly on their own terms. But be careful – their play can be destructive to furniture and household objects.

A caracal will eat about 2 to 3 pounds of meat per day and in captivity he will live to be about 17 years old.

Geoffroy’s Cat

This small cat is native to southern and central South America. Geoffroy’s cats are among the smallest wild cat species, weighing only 4 to 8 pounds when fully grown. Because of their small size they present no public safety threat to humans.

The Geoffroy’s cat is relatively rare in the cat trade. This cat can be rather timid and less social. They can become nervous and aggressive, especially when they reach sexual maturity.

Asian Leopard Cat

Shy and elusive, this nocturnal cat is wary of humans. They make poor house pets. They do best when left to themselves in a large enclosure. If humans interact with them often enough these legal exotic cats can be tame enough to interact with them.

Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats

Garfield, the lasagna-loving cartoon cat was said to be inspired by an exotic shorthair cat.

Exotic shorthair cats, also known as exotics, are the result of breeding a Persian with an American shorthair. If you love the look of the Persian cat but don’t want to burden yourself with the daily grooming that is required, the exotic may be the perfect cat for you. Exotic shorthair cats have the look of a Persian but with a short, plush coat that is very easy to care for.

This new breed was first developed in the 1950s in an attempt to bring the Persian’s silver color and green eyes to the American shorthair. The exotic shorthair cat was first referred to as a “Sterling” because of its silver coat color. But as more exotics were bred, other Persian coat colors began creeping in. At first the exotic shorthair cat was seen as controversial, but Persian breeders soon became intrigued with the new breed. Exotic shorthair cats were first recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1967, and today they are recognized by all cat registries.

Exotic shorthair cats are basically a short-haired Persian. They are more lively than the laidback Persian, but for the most part they love to sit in their human’s lap. Affectionate with an easy-going personality, exotic shorthair cats are very undemanding. They are sweet companions that are also very loyal. The breed is playful and intelligent. Exotics will be quite playful and energetic in the kitten stage, but as they grow they will mellow.

Much like a Persian, the exotic shorthair cat prefers to be seen and not heard. These cats are extremely quiet.

Exotic shorthair cats are perfect for singles, families, seniors and multi-pet homes. They get along well with children and cat-friendly dogs. They can do well in either a rural or urban setting. This is one of the most affectionate cat breeds you will ever find. It is not unusual for an exotic shorthair cat to follow you around from room to room.

With its “teddy bear looks” and large expressive eyes, the exotic shorthair is a beautiful breed. This adorable cat has a round head, round eyes and a round body. It has short legs and a compact body.

Their short, plush coat comes in a variety of colors including white, blue, black, red, cream, chocolate and lilac. They also come in a variety of patterns including tabby, bicolor and tortoiseshell. They have a short coat that is still very luxurious, and their coat tends to shed very little. You should brush exotic shorthair cats weekly to keep their coats under control. Because of their dense coats, exotic shorthair cats become warm very easily. They like to sleep in cooler areas of the home to help regulate their body temperature.

This is a big cat that can grow up to 15 pounds.

This is a brachycephalic breed, which means that the face is short and broad with a flat muzzle. This can lead to some health problems, such as breathing, sinus and tear duct issues. Also, there can be some problems with tooth alignment because of the shape of the jaw. The breed is also prone to heat sensitivity.

Exotic shorthair cats come in different looks – extreme and traditional. Extreme exotics have a flatter face. Traditional exotics have a face that is not as flat, which means that they suffer from less breathing problems.

The breed also has a pedomorphic appearance, which means that its face maintains its kitten-like expression. This is a very cute cat. Combine that cuteness factor with its playful, easy-going and loveable nature, and the fact that it’s so easy to care for, and you’ll understand why the exotic shorthair cat is one of the top choices for pets.

An exotic can live to be 15 years of age or older.

To learn more about exotic shorthair cats, go to Choosing an Exotic.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats

Exotic longhair cats are created out of Persian and Himalayan hybrids. They are a long-haired version of the exotic shorthair cat. Exotic longhair cats look like Persians with a flat face and lots of fluffy hair.

This exotic breed was first bred only as a shorthair version. The goal was to breed a cat that had the characteristics of the Persian, but with a shorter, plush coat. When shorthair cats were bred to Persians, the exotic shorthair cat was the result – but exotic longhair cats continued to be born to new litters. Exotic longhair cats were the occasional result of that long-haired Persian gene making itself dominant. When breeding an exotic longhair cat to an exotic shorthair cat, bot longhairs and shorthairs can occur. But when breeding two exotic longhair cats, only longhairs will occur.

Originating in the 1950s, this medium-sized cat has a very luxurious coat and tiny rounded ears. It is a sturdy breed with males weighing as much as 20 pounds or more. Female exotic longhair cats are smaller than the males.

The build of exotic longhair cats is stocky with a round body and short legs. There isn’t much definition to this cat’s physique – in fact, when they lie down and tuck their feet underneath themselves, all you see is fur. The most distinctive feature of the exotic longhair cat is its head and face.

Grooming can be a bit of a challenge with exotic longhair cats. Because they have long hair they need to be groomed on a regular basis. Their coats require daily combing to prevent mats and hairballs. Since these cats love to groom themselves, hairballs can be a real problem with exotic longhair cats.

Their coats come in a variety of colors including white, black and brown. They also come in a variety of patterns including solid, bicolor, calico and tabby. Their eyes can be yellow, gold, green, blue or copper in color.

Exotic longhair cats have a flat face and a snub nose (known as a brachycephalic breed), so they often have health issues related to the structure of their face. They can suffer from sinus issues, tear duct problems and Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which results in breathing difficulties.

Exotic longhair cats are great companions – sweet, gentle, affectionate and very loyal. They are very affectionate towards their owners. This is a good-natured cat with a great temperament. Exotic longhair cats live for love. They love playing with toys and cuddling up with their human companions. Exotic longhair cats are definitely lap cats. They are very much in tune with human emotions and are very devoted to their humans.

They are also good with children and other pets. Exotic longhair cats are great for singles, families, the elderly and multi-pet households. They also make good companions for those living in small spaces. But exotic longhair cats do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. So if you work long hours, this may not be the right cat for you.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats

If you’ve been wondering about exotic cats as pets, there are several things that you should know.

First, there are some domestic house cats that are exotic cats. These breeds, like the exotic longhair cat and the exotic shorthair cat, are very docile and they are very popular with cat owners.

On the other hand, exotic cats like bobcats are illegal in most states. In states that do allow exotic cats, a permit or license is often required and those permits are not usually given to pet owners. These exotic cats are expensive. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000 depending on the cat.

If you have an exotic cat, it will need a large outdoor cage or a dedicated room. Exotic cats will mark their territory by spraying everything in sight, including walls and furniture.

Exotic cats must be treated by veterinarians who are experienced in treating zoo animals. Those vets can be hard to find and treatment may come at a very high price.

If you have issues with exotic cats, they are very difficult to rehome.

Owning these types of exotic cats is not a decision to be taken lightly. Exotic cats might seem like challenging animals, and rightly so. There is a big difference between owning a regular domesticated cat and an exotic cat. But for the adventurous pet owner with the income and the proper living situation, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Have you wondered what you would feed these types of exotic cats? Oftentimes they are fed raw, whole carcasses. Wet food is another good option and some dry food can also be included in the mix.

Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats

There are some types of exotic cats that are domestic house pets. Exotic longhair cats are house cats. Created out of Persian and Himalayan hybrids, they are a long-haired version of the exotic shorthair cat.

Exotic longhair cats look like Persians with a flat face and lots of fluffy hair.

This exotic breed was first bred only as a shorthair version. The goal was to breed a cat which had the characteristics of the Persian, but with a shorter, plush coat. When shorthair cats were bred to Persians, the exotic shorthair cat was the result – but exotic longhair cats continued to be born to new litters. Exotic longhair cats were the occasional result of that long-haired Persian gene making itself dominant.

Originating in the 1950s, this medium-sized cat has a very luxurious coat and tiny rounded ears. It is a sturdy breed with males weighing as much as 20 pounds or more. Female exotic longhair cats are smaller than the males.

Exotic longhair cats are great companions – sweet, gentle, affectionate and very loyal. This is a good-natured cat with a great temperament. Exotic longhair cats live for love. They love playing with toys and cuddling up with their human companions. Exotic longhair cats are definitely lap cats. They are very much in tune with human emotions and are very devoted to their humans.

To learn more about exotic longhair cats, go to Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats.

Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats

Exotic shorthair cats, also known as exotics, are the result of breeding a Persian with an American shorthair. If you love the look of the Persian cat but don’t want to burden yourself with the daily grooming that is required, the exotic may be the perfect cat for you. Exotic shorthair cats have the look of a Persian but with a short, plush coat that is very easy to care for.

Exotic shorthair cats are basically a short-haired Persian. They are more lively than the laidback Persian, but for the most part they love to sit in their human’s lap. Affectionate with an easy-going personality, exotic shorthair cats are very undemanding.

This is a big cat that can grow up to 15 pounds.

This is a brachycephalic breed, which means that the face is short and broad with a flat muzzle. This type of facial structure can lead to some health problems, such as breathing, sinus and tear duct issues. Also, there can be some problems with tooth alignment because of the shape of the jaw. The breed is also prone to heat sensitivity.

To learn more about exotic shorthair cats, go to Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats.

You can also read this article – Choosing an Exotic.

What You Need to Know About Legal Exotic Cats

The smaller sized exotic cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not animals that would tend to prey on humans. These legal exotic cats can make reasonable pets for the right owners, but they are not for everyone. Let us tell you about some of the more popular exotic cat species that can legally be kept as pets in the USA.

Stroke in Cats

A “stroke” is a term commonly applied to people who have suffered a cerebrovascular accident, commonly abbreviated as CVA, caused by cerebrovascular disease.  It was once thought to be very uncommon in cats and dogs but is now known to occur.

A stroke is caused by the disruption of blood supply to the brain that results in failure of nerve impulses to be transmitted from the brain to the rest of the body.

Neurologic symptoms develop that can be temporary or permanent.  If the symptoms persist for over 24 hours, the condition is categorized as a stroke. If the symptoms persist for fewer 24 hours, the event is categorized as a transient ischemic attack or “TIA”.

There are two types of strokes. They include:

  1. Hemorrhagic stroke – This type of stroke results from hemorrhage (bleeding) into or around the brain. This can be caused by bleeding from toxins such as rat poison, vascular abnormalities, and secondary to brain tumors, high blood pressure (hypertension), inflammatory disease of the blood vessels (vasculitis).
  2. Ischemic stroke – Ischemia is a term that means there is an inadequate blood supply to a part of the body or organ. Therefore an ischemic stroke results from a blockage of blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by parasite migration (Cuterebra), migration of cancer cells to the brain, high blood pressure (hypertension) secondary to hyperthyroidism, heart disease, or chronic kidney disease.

Signs of a Stroke in Cats

Whatever type of stroke a cat has, the symptoms that develop are determined by how much brain tissue is affected, how severely it is affected, and where in the brain it is located. Possible signs of a stroke in cats include:

  • Altered mental status e.g. disorientation
  • Circling in one direction
  • Falling over to one side
  • Head pressing
  • Head tilt to one side or another
  • Stumbling or drunken walking
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Not using the legs normally (sometimes on one side of the body)
  • Rolling
  • Unequal pupil sizes and/or abnormal eye reflexes
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Diagnosis of Stroke in Cats

Stroke in cats can affect an animal very suddenly. A very important point is that many owners may mistake a stroke for a different condition called Vestibular Disease. Learn more about Vestibular Disease in Cats.

Other disorders that result in signs similar to strokes include inner ear infections, thiamine deficiency, head trauma, middle ear polyps, middle ear cancer, brain tumors, and/or metronidazole (antibiotic) toxicity.

Diagnostic tests are needed to determine the presence of an underlying disease or cause for the stroke and to differentiate between other disorders that may be affecting the balance system of the body.

Tests may include:

  • Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination including a complete neurologic examination and complete examination of the ear canal.
  • Laboratory tests may be recommended to determine your pet’s general health and the presence of an underlying disease that may be causing the vestibular disease. Recommended tests may include:
  • Blood tests may include a complete blood count (CBC or hemogram), serum biochemistry tests to evaluate blood glucose, liver and kidney function and electrolytes, and thyroid test to evaluate for hyperthyroidism.
  • Urinalysis to help evaluate kidney function.
  • Blood clotting times (PT and PTT) may be recommended if there is suspicion of toxin exposure such as to rat poison. Read more at Anti-coagulant rodenticide.
  • Blood pressure to evaluate for hypertension.
  • Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest and abdomen may be recommended to evaluate for major diseases affecting the heart, lungs or abdominal organs.
  • Cardiac evaluation:  In cases where the heart is suspected to be the problem on the basis of the physical examination and initial evaluations, a cardiac evaluation including an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and an electrocardiogram (ECG) may be recommended.
  • Other diagnostic tests may be recommended based on the results of the history, physical examination and initial laboratory tests such as spinal tap, CT, MRI or skull x-rays.

Treatment of Stroke in Cats

The treatment for strokes in cats is largely supportive. The first 24 hours is most difficult as the symptoms are worst, providing there is not progression.

  • Management will be recommended to treat any underlying conditions. For example:
  • Blood pressure medications to treat hypertension
  • Heart medications to treat the underlying heart disease
  • Thyroid medications to treat hyperthyroidism
  • Maintaining hydration with fluid therapy
  • Encourage adequate nutrition
  • Oxygen therapy to improve oxygen delivery
  • Nursing care as needed to keep the eyes lubricated, rotating pets that are not moving from side to side, constant cleaning urine and feces, and/or warm environment to provide optimal comfort

Some cats can recover completely from stokes and others will have permanent neurological abnormalities. Little research has been done to determine the overall prognosis for strokes in cats.  The prognosis is largely dependent on the underlying cause and the ability to adequately treat those causes.

Home Care and Prevention

Call your veterinarian promptly if your pet is showing signs of a stroke. This is a frightening experience for your cat so speak calmly and soothingly. Make sure he does not injure himself and please make sure you do not get bit. Cats that are frightened or in pain may bite.

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats

Heartworm disease is an infectious disease caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis that can occur in dogs and cats but is less common in cats. An infected mosquito that bites your cat can transmit Dirofilaria immitis. Below we will give you information about heartworm symptoms as well as information about the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heartworm disease.  We will also cover other diseases that can cause similar symptoms and be confused with feline heartworm disease.

There are key differences in heartworm disease and in heartworm symptoms in cats vs. dogs. The cat is not the typical host for heartworms. It is believed that dogs get heartworm disease 10 times more commonly than cats. Many cats with heartworm disease go undiagnosed.

Heartworm disease in cats can occur in any breed and at any age. Male cats are more commonly infected and outdoor cats are at increased risk.  It is estimated that approximately one-third of cats with heartworm disease are indoors only.

The numbers of worms that develop in cats are generally much less than dogs. In fact, some cats infected with heartworms may have only one to three worms. These worms will live in pulmonary vessels and cause the symptoms we will identify below.

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats

The symptoms of heartworm disease in cats can be vague to critical. Some cats will appear normal on physical examination while others will have a history of vomiting, a cough, trouble breathing, or even sudden death.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in cats may include:

  • Coughing (dry)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty or trouble breathing – Learn more about How to Recognize Fluid in a Cat’s Lungs
  • Increased respiratory effort
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Sudden death
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Collapse or fainting
  • Decreased activity or playfulness
  • Sleeping more
  • Abnormal neurologic symptoms such as seizures, circling, blindness, trouble walking or incoordination
  • Sudden death – Learn more about Sudden Cat Death: Understanding Why it Happens

Why and How Cats Get Heartworms

The following are the steps of how a cat can get heartworm disease:

  1. Transmission of heartworms to a cat occurs when a mosquito bites an infected dog or cat and ingests heartworm larvae (baby heartworms) that live in the bloodstream. The parasite is known by the scientific name of Dirofilaria immitis.
  2. The infected mosquito then bites a normal healthy cat and when this happens some of the larvae are injected under the skin.
  3. Over the following 3 to 4 months, the larvae grow in the cat and eventually make their way into the heart where they develop into adult worms.  As little as 2 or 3 worms can be fatal to an adult cat.
  4. The process is then ready to repeat itself.

Figure 1. Graphic of a heart with heartworms in the heart and pulmonary blood vessels. The heartworms appear as light colored thin spaghetti type structures. This heart shows many heartworms. Cats with heartworms may only have one to three worms.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Diseases that Can Look Like Heartworm Disease in Cats

Many cat owners are concerned that their cat has heartworm disease when they see signs of difficulty breathing or labored breathing. Trouble breathing in cats can be caused by heartworm disease but it is more common for the cause to be from heart disease or feline asthma.

Causes of heart disease in cats include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Cats and Chronic Valvular Heart Disease. The increased respiratory effort associated with heart disease is often caused by pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) or pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) that is secondary to congestive heart failure.

There are several causes of an enlarged heart in cats. Learn more about What Does an Enlarged Heart Mean for Cats?

Asthma in cats, also known as “Feline Allergic Asthma” or “Feline Allergic Bronchitis”, and is a lung condition associated with airway obstruction caused by sudden narrowing of the bronchial tubes. These symptoms are caused by the spasmodic constriction of the bronchial tubes and increased production of secretions from the bronchial tree. Some cats may have an acute onset of signs while other cats may have signs that come and go. Common symptoms in cats include coughing, difficulty breathing, increased respiratory effort, fast respiratory rates, wheezing breathing, lethargy, weight loss, weakness, withdrawing from social activities around the house, and/or an abnormal posture. As some cats struggle to breathe, they may sit with their head extended and elbows back.

Diagnosis of Heartworm Disease in Cats

Tests that can diagnose heartworm disease in cats include serum heartworm antibody test, serum heartworm antigen test, and or Microfilaria test (looking for larva in the blood).

What Does an Enlarged Heart Mean for Cats?

An enlarged heart in cats is a common sign of heart disease.  There are several types of heart disease that can occur in cats and the different diseases can cause special structural changes in the heart. Below we will review the signs of an enlarged heart in cats, causes of an enlarged heart, tips for diagnosis of the underlying heart disease, and what you can do at home.

Signs of an Enlarged Heart in Cats

Signs of heart disease can vary depending on the severity of the disease. In early stages of heart disease, cats can appear normal. Some cats will have very subtle symptoms that may progress over time. Signs of heart disease in cats may include:

  • Noisy, difficult, open-mouthed breathing
  • Increased respiratory rate and/or increased respiratory effort (using abdominal muscles to breath)
  • Posture of help breathing such as squatting or lying with chest down, head extended and elbows pointed outward and back
  • Anorexia or lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping more
  • Decreased social interactions with the family or other cats
  • Sudden inability to use one or more limbs and crying
  • Coughing (rare in cats, common in dogs)
  • Fainting
  • Your vet may auscultate a murmur- learn more about Murmurs in Cats. This is a very good article written by a veterinary cardiologist.

Some pet owners may attribute the subtle changes associated with heart disease in cats to changes to age in older cat or maturity in younger cats. As the heart disease progresses, there may be progressive weight loss, trouble breathing which can cause an increased breathing (respiratory) rate or increased effort. If you believe your cat has an enlarged heart or is having any difficulty breathing or is in pain, please see your veterinarian immediately.

Heart disease can be a cause of sudden and unexpected death.   Learn more about Sudden Cat Death: Understanding Why it Happens.

Causes of Enlarged Hearts in Cats

There are several causes of an enlarged heart in cats. They may include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is common heart condition in cats characterized by a thickening of the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) and not attributed to other medical conditions (such as high blood pressure). It can, in severe cases, cause heart failure when fluid accumulates in the lungs. Blood clots can form in the heart and travel to distant blood vessels obstructing blood flow to one or more limbs (especially the back legs). This is called a thromboembolism and can cause severe pain while having the inability or difficulty using one or more legs. HCM can be mild to life-threatening. Learn more about Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in Cats.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in cats is a heart disease characterized by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The heart muscle is often very thin and the ability of the heart to pump is diminished. An analogy of a normal functioning ventricle would be opening and closing your fist/hand completely. Using this analogy, the ventricle of a cat with dilated cardiomyopathy will only have a fraction of that full movement such as only the fingers moving slightly toward your palm but no full squeeze.  Some cats will have only one part of the heart involved or advanced case can cause all four heart chambers to be abnormally affected. Learn more about Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Cats.
  • Another heart disease that may affect cats is Chronic Valvular Heart Disease.  Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a condition characterized by degeneration and thickening of the heart valves. Valvular heart disease is more common in dogs but can also occur in cats. The abnormal values can cause an enlarged cat heart and can eventually lead to heart failure. Accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or the abdomen (ascites) may occur.
  • Feline heartworm disease is caused by a parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, that is transmitted by mosquitoes.  Heartworm disease is less common in cats than dogs but can occur. Heartworm disease can cause an enlarged heart in cats. It can be diagnosed by blood tests and advanced testing such as an echocardiogram (Echo). Learn more about Heartworm Symptoms in Cats. This article has information about feline heartworm disease.
  • Congenital heart disease is a term used to describe abnormalities in the heart that develops before birth. There are many different types of defects that can affect different parts of the heart. These diseases can cause an enlarged heart in cats. The best way to diagnose congenital heart disease in cats is with an Echocardiogram performed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist.

How Enlarged Hearts in Cats are Diagnosed

An enlarged heart in cats can be diagnosed by the following methods:

  • Chest X-rays – Also known as thoracic radiographs or X-rays of the chest, a chest X-ray can identify heart enlargement and fluid accumulations in or around the lungs. Chest X-rays can also be useful in excluding a number of other diseases.
  • Echocardiogram – Also known as an ultrasound examination of the heart or an “echo”, is the most sensitive diagnostic test that can determine not only if the heart is enlarged but also which part of the heart is abnormal and the severity of the disease. The echocardiogram can also determine if the underlying cause of the enlargement is from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, alveolar heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy and heart deformities (congenital heart disease).  In summary, the echocardiogram can establish the diagnosis of the enlarged heart and provide useful information about and heart muscle function. This test often requires referral to a specialist such as a veterinary cardiologist. The experience of a specialist can be vital to determining the underlying cause for the enlargement to provide the best information to guide treatment and understand the prognosis.

Homecare: What You Need to Do at Home

Please see your veterinarian for all routine physical examinations and follow-up testing.  If your cat is diagnosed with an enlarged heart, it is critical to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for additional testing such as the ones listed above. Chest x-rays and an echocardiogram can be important to determine the underlying cause for the enlarged heart which will help determine the best treatment options and help you understand the prognosis.  Referral to a board-certified veterinary cardiologist is often the best option to optimize your cats care.

High Blood Sugar in Cats

There are three common ways that pet owners can identify high blood sugar in cats. Methods may include recognizing clinical signs of hyperglycemia (which we will describe below), measuring the blood glucose, and/or evaluating the urine glucose level.

  1. Clinical signs of high blood sugar. Cats with hyperglycemia secondary to diabetes generally have a history of obesity, lack of appetite (anorexia), vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, increased thirst and increased urination.  The classic signs are drinking more and urinating more. Some cat owners don’t notice the “urinating more” but will notice that there are more piles of urine in the box or that the litter box is heavier when changing it out. They may also notice their cat at the water bowl more often or that they are filling up the water bowl more frequently. Some pet owners don’t notice these changes, especially if there are multiple caregivers in the house doing similar tasks such as filling water bowls or cleaning the litter boxes.
  2. Blood glucose test. The best way to identify a high blood glucose is to have your veterinarian perform blood work. A routine biochemical profile (also called blood chemistry panel) will provide a blood glucose measurement as well as kidney values, protein levels, liver values, and electrolytes. It may be ideal to determine the kidney function because kidney disease can cause symptoms that are similar to diabetes in cats. You can also obtain a single blood glucose level with a glucometer at the vet clinic or at home.  Although not easy to do at home in most cats, some pet owners are able to check their cat’s blood glucose at home. Here are some tips of how to do this at home – go to Home Monitoring of the Diabetic Cat with a Glucometer.
  3. Urine test. When the blood glucose concentration exceeds the kidney’s ability to handle it, glucose can be present in the urine. In cats, the blood glucose concentration that allows for urine glucose is 260 to 310 mg/dL. It can be difficult to catch a urine sample at home but some cat owners empty the litter box except for shredded paper and are able to catch the liquid and perform a urine glucose dipstick. There are some litters or confetti-type flakes that go on the litter that can help detect urine glucose.  Learn more about Urine Glucose Testing.

Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is the most common cause of persistent high blood sugar in cats. It is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone insulin. This impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

There are two types of diabetes mellitus.

  • Type I DM occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. This can be the result of destruction of the cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. This form is identified in approximately 50 to 70 % of cats diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. This form does not produce enough insulin and requires insulin injections to control the disease.
  • Type II DM occurs when enough insulin is produced but something interferes with its ability to be utilized by the body. This form is identified in approximately 30% of cats with diabetes mellitus. This type of diabetes is treated with dietary management, weight control, and oral drugs.

 

Learn more about Diabetes in Cats and insulin injection in cats.   Diabetes can get out of control causing a severe syndrome of life-threatening symptoms called Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).  Dietary therapy is very important. Learn more about Diets for Diabetic Cats.

If you believe your cat has a high blood glucose, is not eating, vomiting, lethargic, or you have any other concerns, please see your veterinarian. We hope this article helps you know more about high blood sugars in cats.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Sick Cats and Diabetes in Cats: