Tick-Borne Disease Fatal To Cats

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A disease known as “Bobcat Fever” can kill a house cat in days, and cases are popping up across the Ozarks. 

In just a few days, your loving feline friend can go from being completely healthy, to having all nine of its lives taken at once. And its all caused by an all-too-familiar summer pest. 

Veterinarian Bridget Zacharias at Sunshine Animal Hospital says it only takes about 12 hours for symptoms to start setting in for cytauxzoonosis, or “Bobcat Fever”.

“Just being really tired, they won’t eat their food, that’s usually the first warning signs, then it starts deteriorating rapidly. They have a fever, sometimes you can even see neurologic signs, so trembling and some seizures,” says Dr. Zacharias. 

It doesn’t take long for Bobcat Fever to become fatal, just five to seven days. Dr. Zacharias says right now, they are diagnosing the disease to cats every few days. 

“Here at this practice we see about 2-3 cases a month, in other areas they see 2-3 or more cases a week,” says Dr. Zacharias. 

Having experienced something so small being so deadly, Regina Waters had a pet cat die of Bobcat Fever over 15 years ago. She knew she had to act fast when her cat Chompski started acting out of character.

“About a week and a half ago we noticed that our cat didn’t have the energy level that he normally has or the appetite,” says Waters. 

Luckily, Chompski’s signs and symptoms were caught early enough, and he has a pretty good shot at survival due to a combination of treatments. 

“One of them is an antibiotic, and the other one is an anti-malarial medication,” says Waters. 

That treatment you saw was developed by University of Missouri Vet Doctor Leah Cohn. Since then, survivability rates have gone from near zero percent, to around 60 percent. 

This being her second time around, Waters says with this disease, there is no such thing as being too careful. 

“Every minute counts. You have to call and get that animal seen by a vet,” Waters says.  

For prevention, other than keeping cats indoors, flea and tick protection is crucial. 

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