Becoming the proud parent of a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities, and undoubtedly one of your first priorities will be to ensure that your furbaby is sufficiently protected from the numerous infectious diseases that could pose a threat to her health and happiness, many of which are carried by parasites including ticks. Fortunately, there are also a large number of preventive treatments available, meaning that there is almost certainly something that can help keep your new cat safe from harm.
One of the biggest misconceptions about feline ownership is that you do not need to worry about protecting your cat from ticks. However, these small, wingless parasites are often just as happy tucking in to a cat’s blood as they are another type of mammal. When an infected tick chooses to snack on your pet, they transmit the disease they are carrying to them and within days, weeks or in some cases months, your cat will start to suffer symptoms of the infection they are now fighting.
What tick-borne diseases could affect my cat?
While some tick-borne diseases can affect cats as well as dogs and even humans, there are some which exclusively affect felines. Here are some of the most common tick-borne illnesses which could potentially affect your furry friend.
The most common tick-borne disease in the world, Lyme disease can affect cats, dogs and humans. Transmitted primarily by deer ticks and in some areas, the western black-legged tick, the disease transfers slowly and the tick normally needs to be attached to your cat for more than 48 hours in order for her to become infected.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include lameness, swollen joints, swollen lymph nodes, fever and reduced appetite.
This unpleasant disease, also sometimes referred to as feline infectious anemia is carried by both ticks and fleas and targets the red blood cells of its host, causing symptoms that include sudden fever, weakness, loss of appetite and white/pale purple gums. The Lone Star tick is responsible for the transmission of this disease.
Also often referred to as ‘rabbit fever’, Tularemia is transmitted by several different ticks in North America including the American dog tick, wood tick and Lone Star tick. This is one tick-borne disease that tends to affect more felines than canines and can produce a selection of symptoms including high fever, swollen lymph nodes and nasal discharge.
A particularly nasty tick-borne infection, Babesiosis affects your pet’s blood cells, causing a range of unpleasant symptoms including dark-colored urine, pale gums, fever and swollen lymph nodes. It is primarily spread through the bite of the blacklegged or deer tick.
Transmitted by the Lone Star tick, Cytauxzoonosis can be found across the United States, but is more prolific in the central, south-central, south-eastern and mid-Atlantic regions. Symptoms usually develop around 10 days after a tick bite and include common, non-specific indicators such as lethargy, loss of appetite and elevated temperature. However, it can be serious and cause problems such as respiratory difficulties.
Treating feline tick-borne diseases
As with most types of health issue, the earlier you can get your cat diagnosed with a tick-borne disease and start treatment, the more likely she is to make a full recovery from her condition. The exact treatment our vet at Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center prescribes will depend on the type of infectious disease affecting her and her general health, but you can expect her to be prescribed a course of antibiotic medication. In some circumstances whereby your cat has become particularly unwell as a result of the disease, additional therapies such as intravenous fluid or blood transfusions may be necessary.
Protecting your feline friend from tick-borne diseases is an essential part of her care. For more advice about the types of diseases spread by ticks, or to find out about suitable preventive treatments, please do not hesitate to contact our vets in Nashville, TN at Nippers Corner Pet & Medical Center.