Ticks are an essential part of the natural world, but they can also cause serious health issues. Fortunately, tick-borne diseases in cats are rare.
But it is still a good idea to know what ticks are, how they look, and how to treat them if you find one on your cat.
Anaplasmosis is an infection that’s caused by bacteria spread by ticks. These bacteria cause fever, muscle aches, and other symptoms.
The disease can affect people of all ages and is most common in the spring and summer months when ticks are active. Infection can be prevented by removing any ticks attached to your body and ensuring that you avoid exposure to infected areas.
Early signs and symptoms of anaplasmosis are usually mild or moderate. However, a small number of patients may develop life-threatening complications.
Tularemia is an infection that is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. People can get it from biting an infected tick, contact with infected animals, or contaminated soil or water.
Symptoms of tularemia can occur within 3 to 5 days after being bitten or exposed to germs. Symptoms can range from flu-like illness to pneumonia.
Affected animals may appear in good condition, yet be very sick or die if left untreated. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
The disease can be diagnosed by a doctor’s history and physical examination, blood tests, and culture of sores. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics.
There are three main forms of tularemia: ulceroglandular, glandular and oculoglandular. The first develops when your cat is bitten by an infected tick or insect, and skin ulceration occurs at the site of the infection. Other tularemia infections can include lymph glands becoming swollen or oral ulceration.
Cytauxzoonosis, also known as bobcat fever, is caused by the protozoal parasite Cytauxzoon felis and is spread to domestic cats by tick bites. The American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americium) are most commonly implicated in transmitting this disease.
This is a severe, life-threatening infection that can kill without treatment. Severe systemic inflammation, clotting abnormalities, and organ damage characterize it.
The primary symptom of cytauxzoonosis is a high body temperature, usually over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, a cat can develop seizures or lapse into a coma.
Most cats diagnosed with cytauxzoonosis will need intensive, supportive care, including intravenous fluids to correct dehydration and any electrolyte abnormalities, blood transfusions, and nutrition. The standard treatment for this parasitic infection is antiprotozoal therapy with atovaquone and azithromycin, showing a 50-60% survival rate.
The best prevention of cytauxzoonosis, and other tick-borne diseases, is to keep cats indoors during tick season and apply year-round tick control products available at your local pet store.
Also Read – The Dangers of Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs
4. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans, most often from the bite of an infected tick. Early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a rash at the site of the tick bite.
Later, symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes and a purple rash that resembles a bull’s eye (erythema migrans or EM rash). More serious illnesses may develop years after the initial infection.
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. But it is common for people to develop chronic Lyme disease and require a more comprehensive treatment approach.