Heavy breathing

By Connie Orcutt • Published: April 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Any cat that roams freely outside faces a lot of risks. One risk is a small parasite that can take his breath away.

Lungworms are parasites that infect cats and cause labored breathing and coughing. They are different than heartworms, which also infect cats’ lungs. Without treatment, a lungworm infection can lead to weight loss, pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

A cat becomes infected by eating prey or drinking water that contains young lungworms, or larvae [LAR-vay]. From the digestive tract, the larvae travel to the lungs where they mature and lay eggs. As the eggs are coughed up, the infection spreads to other cats.

Lungworm infections can be treated, and the prognosis is surprisingly good if there are no secondary infections. But the best strategy is still to prevent infection by keeping your free-wheelin’ feline inside.