Hanford_iStock_000059404992_Large (1)We know that Lyme disease is a concern in people. We also know that dogs can become infected. If you have a cat that ventures outdoors, you may be asking yourself:  Is Lyme disease in cats a real concern?

Read on to learn about what The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center have to say about your cat and tick-borne diseases.

Learning About Lyme

As the weather warms up, so does our pet’s potential exposure risk to a myriad of parasites. Besides fleas, heartworms, and intestinal parasites, ticks are a big problem for many animals. Ticks can carry several nasty diseases, so it is important to be aware of their presence and prevent them when possible.

Perhaps the most prevalent disease carried by the tick in this part of the country is Lyme disease. This disease complex is caused bacterial with Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria resides in the digestive tract of the deer tick (Ixodes) and can infect people and pets.

When a tick begins to take a blood meal, the bacteria in its digestive system starts to become active. Within several hours, the tick may be able to inject the bacteria back into its host, leading to infection with Lyme disease. Pets who have been infected may not have symptoms for several weeks. When they appear, they often include:

  • A fever
  • General depression/lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

While Lyme disease is usually treatable with antibiotics, if it is not detected it can progress and cause much more serious disease.

Lyme Disease in Cats

People and dogs are affected by tick-borne disease on a fairly regular basis. Feline fanatics want to know, however, if Lyme disease in cats is a real concern.

It has been shown in a laboratory setting that Lyme disease can, in fact, infect cats. There has never been a diagnosed case, however, of a naturally occurring infection. This means that while cat owners should take ticks seriously, Lyme disease in cats is probably not a major concern.

Ticks can carry a variety of diseases, and cats, especially those who venture outdoors, can benefit from a good parasite prevention plan. Be sure to:

Prevent where possible – We are happy to help you select a safe and effective tick prevention product from our pharmacy. Please note that many tick preventatives that dogs are able to use are not safe for cats and do not use anything without checking with us first.

Arm yourself with knowledge – If you should find a tick on your feline friend, do you know what to do? Learn how to remove a tick properly. Removing any hitchhikers promptly can disrupt disease transmission and prevent infection. Inspect your outdoor cat regularly for any signs of ticks.

While cat owners need not lose any sleep over Lyme disease, it is important to be educated on the topic. A good prevention plan is essential to keeping our pets healthy and happy and we are proud to be a part of that. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.