Hello Everyone! I just thought that since I recently took on a kitty that had lived outside, it might be helpful to others to follow his story. I’ve found that many people don’t realize cats can get heartworms in the same way that dogs get them, through a mosquito bite. It only takes one. Kitties that live outside are at risk. Cats tend to get them less frequently than dogs but there is no cure for them if this happens. There are preventive medicines that you can give an outside cat. They should be given the prevetative. Also remember that an open widow with a hole in the screen can allow mosquitos inside. BJ was a cat that was rescued. He probably spent most of his life outside before coming to me. He was not neutered. Since coming into my home, he has been neutered and started on his immunization regimen. I just got the results on his blood work. As a very active male he contracted FIV. That is something that could still give him a normal life span if properly cared for. Today I got the rest of his results. He has heartworms. At this point the only treatment I have found for this if he develops issues is steroids for inflammation or oxygen therapy if he has trouble breathing. It is my understanding that the worms don’t survive well in the system of a cat. The cats systems fights them off but If they do reach the heart and die or survive, the cat can develop reactions to that. The lungs, organs and respiratory system can be affected as the dead worms break apart and block arteries or cause inflammation. Symptoms of the illness can vary from coughing, diarrhea, litter box issues, panting, asthma like symptoms, fainting and even sudden death. I encourage everyone to use preventative, keep cats indoors if possible and TNR any cats at risk. For me the R stands for re home whenever possible. Neutering and spaying will mean less kitties at risk for disease of any kind. Re homing gets them out of the mosquitos. BJ is an extraordinary cat. Of the many rescues I have been involved with, he stood out in the crowd. He was the defender of the colony and had acted as watchdog for me. He adjusted to being indoors and the other cats very well. He’s a true lover. Right now he is not showing symptoms of the heartworms. I’ll be following him closely and will post any changes I note in his condition. For now, I’ll make sure he gets nutritional food, is kept warm in Winter and cool in Summer, and gets all the love and attention he desires. He’ll be getting vegular vet checks and will be a strictly indoor kitty. Any area that has mosquitos can be a risk so please be aware and if you plan of traveling with your cat, make sure that if the area is a risk , you give your cat preventatives! I’d like you all to meet my sweet boy, BJ. He is a very large cat and he lived near a wetland area. He was intimidating at first but... Is really just a big teddy bear. It became obvious that he desired affection, even if it came from a tree! Lol He soon indicated a desire for belly rubs. Once inside he learned to love head scratches and He loves his Mom as much as she loves him.