Harley Jones (also affectionately called “”Baby Girl””) was a loving and shy indoor cat. She was born on May 1, 2005, under a porch in Columbia, S.C. Ashley Jones and her husband Jared brought her home to join their family, which included their five-year-old cat Dempsey, and three-year-old dog Bear.
The Joneses treated Harley and their other cat for fleas, and protected Bear from both fleas and heartworms. Unfortunately, they would learn the hard way that, without heartworm prevention, the disease could affect their felines as well.
One afternoon in October, shortly after Harley’s first birthday, Ashley came home for lunch and found Harley lying on the floor of the kitchen, not breathing or moving. Earlier that morning, she had been hopping up on her lap, eating and acting normal. Ashley was shocked and upset to see her lying there. Hastily, she called the Columbia Cat Clinic and drove Harley straight there.
Dr. Leigh Sheridan met them quickly in the examination room, gave Harley a thorough exam and reported that she had died. Due to the sudden nature of the death, Dr. Sheridan suspected heartworms, but ordered a necropsy to be sure. The results confirmed her suspicions: Harley died of complications from feline heartworms.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners heartworm disease is contracted through a mosquito bite and causes significant lung disease in cats. Many cats infected with heartworms do not exhibit any signs and very tragically, the first sign of the disease is that the cat suddenly dies. It is a very serious disease, but very preventable.
“”My husband and I felt helpless, and wished there was something we could have done to prevent [Harley’s death],”” Ashley said. “”We now protect our other cat against heartworms and are proud to raise awareness so that other cat lovers do not have to experience such a tragic event.””