A family in Oklahoma noticed their cat had a bloody nose in the spring of 2017. It was sluggish, and had trouble walking.
“My husband had noticed a little bit of nasal discharge and a little blood in it at first, and he said ‘I think you need to look at Paws,'” Barbara Tarbutton told News 4.
The brought their cat to a local vet, who told the Tarbuttons that Paw Paws had contracted a blood parasite, cytauxzoonosis, nicknamed Bobcat Fever, and prescribed an expensive medication.
But it was no use. Moments later, Paw Paws was dead.
Bobcat Fever is once again spreading across the Midwest, most commonly through tick bites, which increase dramatically in the spring. Tragically, stories like the Tarbuttons’ are on the rise.
But there is also hope. Cats infected with Bobcat Fever can be cured, and are being treated effectively, with a method developed by University of Missouri veterinarian Leah Cohn, a small animal disease expert, and Adam Birkenheuer from North Carolina State University.
“Previous treatment methods have only been able to save less than 25 percent of infected cats, but our method, which is now being used by veterinarians across the country, has been shown to save about 60 percent of infected cats,” Cohn told Big Cat Rescue. “While that number isn’t as high as we’d like due to the deadly nature of the disease, our method is the first truly effective way to combat the disease.”
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True to its name, Bobcat Fever does indeed infect bobcats. Also, domestic cats, big cats, wild cats–any cat is susceptible to the disease, but only cats. Humans are immune, but cats who come into contact with the blood borne parasite are in grave danger.
“Bobcat fever affects healthy outdoor cats the most, because they are the most likely to get bitten by ticks,” Cohn said. “The disease acts very quickly and can kill a cat less than a week after it begins to show signs of being sick, so it is important to get treatment from a veterinarian as soon as the cat appears ill.”
And how can Bobcat Fever be avoided? By keeping cats indoors. It’s the only way you can be sure they won’t be bitten by the infected ticks. Tick collars are helpful, of course, but for the solution that works best for your pet, you should consult your veterinarian.
Learn more about Bobcat Fever in the video below.
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