Bobcat Fever (Cytauxzoon felis) is spreading across the Midwest, most commonly through tick bites. Outdoor cats—even those who are not outside all of the time—are at risk of catching this often deadly disease. Humans and dogs are not affected.
Symptoms of Bobcat Fever include loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, dehydration, jaundice, respiratory distress, organ failure and/or crying out in pain. Symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days up to three weeks after the tick bite, though most commonly in the first 5-10 days. The disease can progress quickly, and cats that are left untreated can die within days. Many pet owners are unaware of the urgency when their cat begins exhibiting symptoms as it may just appear that the cat is having an “off” day.
Bobcat Fever is typically treated with anti-parasitic drugs and supportive care, which may include intravenous fluids, blood transfusions and nutritional support. Unfortunately, even with aggressive treatment, the survival rate is only about 60% because the disease is usually too far progressed by the time treatment starts.
The best ways to keep your cats safe from this deadly disease are to keep them indoors and maintain a regular regimen of flea/tick preventative. Over the counter flea and tick medications are not always effective in keeping your pets protected. Every veterinarian has their opinion on which flea/tick preventative they feel is the best, but you should definitely consult with your vet to get one that will fully protect your 4-legged children.