Dear Dr. Schelling,

I know about heartworm in dogs, but should I be concerned about heartworm in my cat? Should I be giving my cat a heartworm preventive medicine?

For years, no one thought that cats could catch heartworm disease. However, we now know that is not true. Heartworm larvae are carried in mosquitoes, so any cat bitten by an infected mosquito is at risk.

While heartworm infection in cats is not as common as in dogs, cats are often quite ill even if they are only infected with a single worm.

Signs of heartworm infection include gagging, vomiting, and wheezing, and are often confused with other
diseases such as asthma. Diagnosis is a blood test, usually sent to a laboratory.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for cats with heartworm; medications are given to minimize the clinical signs, and preventives to help prevent re-infection. The hope is to keep the cat comfortable until
the worms die, at which point the cat will be cured.

So my bottom line is: Since cats can get this serious disease, and there are no quick easy cures, it is prudent
to discuss a heartworm prevention program with your veterinarian.

For more information, check out my in-depth article, HEARTWORM DISEASE IN CATS.


Hi Fancy. We got our cat, Milo, three years ago as a kitten, shortly after my husband and I were married. I was always Milo's favorite, but recently he's shifted his attention toward my husband. The two of them are best buddies now, which is great, but I feel left out in the cold. I take Milo's lack of interest in me to heart and miss the relationship we used to have. Is there anything I can do to win his love back?

– Empty Lap

… … … …

Dear Empty Lap,

The first thing you must accept is that sometimes cats do things that, to humans, appear random. You will never completely figure us out; that bit of mystery is part of our appeal.

But that doesn't mean you have no influence over our actions . . .

Do you feed Milo? Food is as important to cats as it is to people. Maybe a tad more so. To feed is to nurture; to nurture is to build trust and lasting bonds.

Do you spend time playing with Milo? Through interactive play, you provide Milo with an outlet for exercise, creativity, mental stimulation, and fun – with you. Playing with kitty often strengthens and broadens the human-cat bond. Keeping in mind that cats are naturally skilled hunters (thank you), give Milo some challenges by letting him try to catch, swat, pounce on, and/or manhandle various wand and chase toys that you manipulate in interesting ways. Don't make the games too easy, but let Milo repeatedly win.

Observe how your husband interacts with Milo. Is he using "just the right touch" when petting him? Does his playing style closely match Milo's? Are there mutually enjoyable routines that the two have invented? You may want to be a "copy cat" and borrow some of your husband's techniques in trying to re-establish a close relationship with Milo. Many cats ("ahem") grow picky over time and prefer things just so.

Have you been using any new perfumes, lotions, or shampoos? Some scents – particularly citrus – can be off-putting to cats. I've perfected the "you don't smell good" snub myself.

Speaking of smells, try wearing one of your husband's shirts after he's worn it. You know how attached we cats become to favorite smells. You never know; if Milo associates your husband's scent with you, he may be inspired to welcome you back into the exclusive club.

Hang out as a threesome. You may find that Milo not only picks up on and joins in the togetherness, but figures out ways to sprawl over both you and your husband, for maximum comfort and control over his humans.

I hope these tips work for you and you are able to have a cat-filled lap once again.
… … … …

Got a question for Fancy? Her email is

FLUFF BUNNIES CATNIP TOY: Props to my peppy Fluff Bunnies! On the outside they're all soft faux fur, big bright eyes, and dazzling smiles. But inside their enticingly plump bellies they stash the good stuff – organic catnip. I can always scratch out some room in my busy schedule (sleeping and eating) to roll around with my Fluff Bunnies. After a whiff of the wonderful 'nip, I sink my teeth in, engage my patented death grip, pony kick to my heart's delight, and swat them to oblivion. If my humans slide the Fluff Bunnies across the floor, I can chase them, too. It's great fun, and the workout helps keep me trim (which my vet likes) and looking fabulous (mirror, please).

… … … …

GO CAT GO ZIG-N-ZAG BALL: When the Zig-N-Zag Ball makes an appearance (often showing up out of nowhere), I get Zig-N-Zag fever! With its unpredictable movements and shifting speeds, the Zig-N-Zag Ball is beguiling, irresistible; it's almost . . . inscrutable! It winds itself up and then moves every which way. Chasing and catching the Zig-N-Zag Ball and giving it a satisfying thwap! with my paw also sharpens my stalking and hunting skills. I thought I'd never say this, but the human inventor of this impressive toy may be almost as clever as a cat.

… … … …

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Easter is a great way to celebrate the coming of spring, but among all the festive activities there are potential hazards for your pets.

Plants often pose a threat to pets, especially cats. Remember to keep these plants out of your pets' reach:

•   Easter Lily    •   Easter Daisy   •    Easter Cattleya

Planning on having an Easter egg hunt? Remember where you place those eggs and keep count; leaving hard boiled eggs in the yard for your dog or cat to find later could be hazardous. Or use plastic eggs – but keep track of them and retrieve them also.

Delicious Easter treats are fun for humans to eat but must stay out of your cats' and dogs' dishes. Sweets, notably chocolate, can be toxic to dogs and cats (and many other animals).

Be sure to keep an eye on all your Easter decorations, such as ribbons, bows and fake Easter basket grass. These items could potentially cause choking and bunching or obstruction of the intestines.

What topics would you like to see covered in future issues of the Mewsletter?
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Fluff Bunnie's Catnip Toy Go Cat Go Zig N Zag Ball