While your outdoor cat may enjoy roaming around the neighborhood and exploring the outdoors, they face many hazards on their adventures, including tick bites. Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that live in long grass or other foliage, and your cat may come into contact with them. When a tick feeds on your cat, it could pass a number of dangerous diseases to your pet. Here are three diseases your cat can get from ticks.
Lyme Disease is a well-known tick borne disease among humans, but cats can get it, too. While this disease is often asymptomatic in cats, it can lead to serious symptoms. Your cat may develop lameness in their legs, and you may see that they're having trouble walking or that their joints are swollen or warm to the touch.
In severe cases, Lyme Disease can lead to kidney problems in cats. Kidney failure and even death can occur. Your veterinarian can treat Lyme Disease with antibiotics, but even after treatment, your cat could have long-term joint problems, so it's best to protect them from ticks.
Tuleremia, also called rabbit fever, is spread by ticks that have previously fed on rabbits that are infected with Francisella tularensis, a type of bacteria. Cats are more susceptible to this disease than dogs are, and they can suffer serious symptoms.
If your cat develops tularemia, you'll notice that they have an abscess on their body. This abscess is the location where the tick bit them. They may also develop abscesses on important organs like their livers or spleens. Veterinarians still don't know which antibiotics are best suited for cats with this disease, so human antibiotics like streptomycin are used.
Cytauxzoonosis is spread by lone star ticks that have fed on bobcats that carry the Cytauxzoon felis parasite. Cats that are able to roam in low-density residental areas with nearby woodlands have the greatest risk of getting this disease since both bobcats and ticks live in these areas.
Cats with cytauxzoonosis develop high fevers and stop eating. Their lymph nodes, spleens, and livers become swollen, and without treatment, then can die in as little as two days. Your vet can treat your cat with antiparasitic drugs like atovaquone, though supportive care like intravenous fluids and pain medications will also be necessary.
Outdoor cats can get a lot of diseases from ticks they encounter on their adventures, but with your vet's help, you can protect your cat. Your veterinarian can recommend a monthly tick control medication to keep your pet safe from biting ticks and their dangerous diseases.