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How to Test for Heartworm Disease in Cats

by Flavia Vaduva - April 8, 2019 at 9:00 AM


Most of us are familiar with heartworm disease testing in dogs. But do you know to obtain the sample and run the test for cats?

Thankfully, testing for heartworm disease in cats is fairly similar to testing for heartworm disease in dogs, but there are some key differences when it comes to restraint, site of sample collection, supplies and the test itself.


  • A veterinary assistant gently places the cat in lateral position.

    • The non-dominant hand is used to lightly restain the pet while the dominant hand puts pressure over the medial saphenous vein of the leg that is on the table.

  • Alcohol is used to prep the site and improve visualization of the vessel.

  • Once identified, a veterinary technician uses their non-dominant hand to hold the distal aspect of the left and their dominant hand to insert the needle and obtain the blood sample.

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  • Choosing an appropriately sized needle and syringe is important
    • Commonly, 22G or 25G needles are used; the length varies but ⅝’’ is fairly commonly used. Usually a 3cc syringe is used.
    • You may consider a 1cc syringe as the pressure from using a larger syringe size may collapse the vein.

Place blood in a purple top tube but first remove the needle (unless you are running the test right away).

Another option is to use a butterfly catheter as the extra tubing provides flexibility, especially in fractious patients. Check out this article for more information about how to use butterfly catheters.


Testing for heartworm disease in cats can be tricky and require multiple tests. In small animal general practice, a commonly used test is called the IDEXX Triple SNAP test that tests for antigen to D. immitis in addition to testing for FELV and FIV.

Now you know a lot about testing for heartworm disease in cats. Want to know more? Check out VetTechPrep’s Heartworm Disease PowerPage- included with every subscription- for more information!

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  1. Cote, Etienne. Clinical Veterinary Advisor. Elsevier: St. Louis, MO
  2. Heartworm Disease. American Heartworm Society. 
  3. Parasitology. University of Florida CVM.  
  4. SNAP Feline Triple Test. IDEXX. 
  5. SNAP Feline Triple Test. IDEXX.
  6. Yin, Sophia. Veterinary Nerdbook.Cattledog Publishing

About Flavia Vaduva

Flavia Vaduva is a general practice Veterinarian and a blogger for VetTechPrep. She has a passion for veterinary medicine, education and business management. She really enjoys interacting with veterinary students and veterinary professionals. She spends her free time riding horses and traveling to explore new places!

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