Bobcat fever is a little-known disease deadly to cats. Carried by ticks, it’s most prevalent March through September when tick season is highest. It strikes without warning and in some cases, the tick falls off the cat before you see it, so it also leaves no trace.
Called “bobcat fever” because bobcats often carry the ticks or by its Latin name, Cytauxzoon felis, it’s most prevalent in rural areas of the Southern U.S. and it’s killed thousands of cats.
I think you’ll agree that it’s a good idea to educate yourself about Bobcat fever and your cat so that you can take precautions and know what to look for in case your cat is infected.
The Symptoms of Bobcat Fever in Cats:
- Unable to Stand
- Staggering walk as if been poisoned
- Lack of appetite
Symptoms can set in within 5-20 days of being bitten and without treatment, it’s fatal. Perhaps the worst part is, you may not have any idea what’s going on. As you probably know, cats tend to isolate themselves when they’re not feeling well, and people have reported finding their cats in an out of the way location after it’s too late.
To make matters worse, simply getting bitten by an infected tick can be a death sentence for many cats as even aggressive treatment doesn’t always save them.
If you do find your cat behaving oddly, your veterinarian can test for Bobcat fever with a blood test. If the test returns positive, they may opt to treat with anti-parasite drugs and a hospital stay for IV fluids and monitoring but once it’s set in, there’s no sure-fire treatment.
How to Protect Your Cat from Bobcat Fever
The best way to protect your cat is to minimize the risk by keeping Fluffy indoors as there is no vaccine for the disease. Of course, you’ll also want to stay current with your tick repellants for protection too. Monthly topical flea and tick treatments work well.
Another thing you can do is check your cat daily for ticks. Taking a few minutes to comb through your cat’s fur and have a look is a good habit no matter the time of year. It helps you notice any changes, any lumps or skin problems that may occur, so you can have your cat examined which can lead to early detection for all types of potential problems.
Now, if you have a cat who simply refuses to be confined indoors, then double down on your veterinarian-approved tick repellants and keep your grass mown short. As you probably know, ticks love to hang out in tall grass so if you can remove their favorite hiding places, that will help.
As of the time of this writing, Bobcat fever has been discovered from the Southern East Coast to as far West as Kansas though veterinarians expect its territory will increase.
Now that you’re aware of the dangers of Bobcat fever, what precautions will you take?