Lyme disease is fairly uncommon in cats; however, it is a possible for your cat to develop this awful and uncomfortable disease. If Lyme disease is developed in your cat it can cause serious health concerns that have the possibility of killing your cat.
Hence, it is important as a pet owner to understand what Lyme disease is so you can look out for symptoms and protect your loving cat. Here is a guide that will educate you on everything that you need to know about Lyme disease in your cat.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi which can be found in ticks, especially black-legged ticks.
Lyme disease is usually transmitted through a tick bite. Longer the tick is attached to your cat’s body and/or skin the more serious the symptoms will become. This will cause the disease to spread throughout the bloodstream.
Lyme disease is most commonly known and found in the northeastern part of the United States. Lyme disease is a serious condition that can cause infections of the joints and skin, inflammation and can affect the heart and nervous system.
It is important to take the right precautions and steps to make sure that your furry loved one does not develop Lyme disease as there is no vaccine that is developed to protect your cat against it.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are small creatures called arachnids which belong to and are part of the spider family. They come in many sizes and the largest being the size of a marble. In addition, the longer it is attached to the skin and/or the body the bigger the tick becomes. They also come in a broad scheme of colors, ranging from the color brown all the way to black.
They require animal or human blood as a source of food and to help aid females reproduction. They are attracted to warm, dry and moist areas; this is why skin and flesh make it the perfect place for ticks to feed off your cat.
Most of the time ticks do not carry the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi, but if it does and your cat gets bitten by one it can cause the development of Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Ticks:
In order to prevent the occurrence of Lyme disease in your cat, it is important to recognize if your cat is infested with ticks.
This way you can remove the ticks before they spread diseases which can cause serious health problems.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain and Swelling
- Fast Heart Rate
- Muscle Loss
- Excessive Drooling
* Sometimes there are no symptoms
How to Prevent Ticks?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways as a pet owner you can remove ticks from your cat. Removing ticks in general from your cat is not fun, as they are not the nicest looking creatures and how they cause pain and discomfort towards your pet.
Therefore, in order to make sure your cat stays tick free this year; try some of these prevention tools that you can use on your cat:
Spot-On Treatments: Is a medication that you can find online or even through your veterinarian. This tool will help keep ticks and even fleas away for up to a month.
Oral Medication: Oral pills are another option which you can find online or through your veterinarian. However, before using it it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian.
Shampoos: You can purchase a shampoo that specifically has medication to kill ticks on contact. However, with a shampoo you would have to repeat this process more often.
Tick Dips: Tick dip is a thick solution that you add to water and apply it to your cat and it is important not to wash the medication off afterward. It is important to note that tick dips should not be used on young animals (under 8 weeks old).
Tick Collars: tick collars are a preventative method that is used to repel ticks. However, it is mainly useful for the neck and head areas and it is not a 100% guarantee method.
* It is important to note that no tick prevention method is 100% guaranteed. So it is important to check your cat on a regular basis to see if there are any ticks attached to your cat. Since it only takes one tick that is infected to make your cat seriously ill and cause Lyme disease to develop.
Transmission of Lyme Disease:
Ticks develop the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi by feeding off infected mice, deer and other small to large animals. The ticks that commonly carry these bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi are ticks that are called “Deer Ticks” as they are commonly known to get the disease from deers.
These ticks are commonly found in the nature, including, areas with long grass, bushes, and marshy areas. Cats that spend a lot of time in the outdoors are more prone to be affected by ticks and have a higher chance in developing Lyme disease.
Some people think that Lyme disease can be passed on by other animals that may have this tick disease, but there is not enough evidence that animals can transmit this disease animal to animal.
However, there is a possibility that animals that have ticks can transmit those ticks to your animal and/or cat which also may have the possibility carrying Lyme disease in their immune system.
Stages of Lyme Disease
There are three common stages of Lyme disease as a pet owner you should be aware of:
Stage 1: Early infection within the first few days
*Can witness your cat scratching away
Stage 2: Infection spreads within days and weeks and starts to show symptoms
*Can tell that your cat is uncomfortable and not acting normal
Stage 3: Chronic Lyme disease is developed and if untreated within days and weeks symptoms can become worse and can stay with your cat forever.
* Symptoms become extremely obvious and you cat is in constant pain and discomfort
Note: Most treatable in stage one of Lyme disease
Symptoms of Lyme Disease:
In most cases, you do not see the symptoms of Lyme disease right away. It can take days to weeks to months to start seeing the effects of what Lyme disease can cause.
However, some of the most common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Lameness of limbs
- Inflammation of joints
- Development of kidney problems
- Kidney problems can lead to Glomerulonephritis causing improper functions of the kidney
- Kidney failure
- Stiff walks
- Sensitive to touch
- Heart abnormalities
- Loss of appetite
- Painful joints
- Change in behavior
Where is Lyme Disease Found?
Lyme disease can be found anywhere in North America. The common trend with these areas is that there is a high population of animals and in people.
Some of the common regions include the eastern coastal states, Massachusetts, Virginia, and California.
How Long does a Deer Tick Live For?
Ticks can live and feed off your cat and/or pet for up to two years if not removed. However, most of the times ticks will fall off on its own once full off your animal’s blood.
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease:
In order to diagnosis if your cat has developed Lyme disease, it is important that your veterinarian goes through your cat’s history which includes their medical history as well.
Some of the questions that your veterinarian will ask are where your cat has been, what it has been exposed to and if your cat has been given treatment to avoid ticks and fleas.
This will allow your veterinarian to develop clues and evidence of the infection and if it is even has Lyme disease.
Some of the tests that your veterinarian would include; blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays and fluids from affected joints to see if there is any presence of bacteria that might be Lyme disease.
The condition of the skin is usually a good and promising indicator if you cat has wounds or color change due to ticks.
Treating Lyme Disease
Lyme disease if affected by your cats can cause may serious health concerns as it can affect the kidney, heart, lungs and other major organs. This is why it is important to address Lyme disease as soon as possible. Usually, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics which will show fast improvement of the symptoms.
However, during the treatment process of antibiotics it is important to keep your cat warm, dry and control your cat’s activity. Especially the time that is spent outdoors and with other animals; until you see the symptoms slowly disappear. Antibiotic treatments usually take up to four weeks.
However, in some cases you not only need to treat the symptoms of Lyme disease but also treat the health problems that come with your cat being affected by Lyme disease. For instance, if you cat has experienced liver or heart damage.
It is important to note if your cat does not get fast treatment some of the symptoms will never go area; even after treating and killing the bacteria that is present in Lyme disease.
Preventing Lyme Disease
As a pet owner, you can take precautions in order to protect your cat from never developing Lyme disease.
Some of the prevention’s include:
Physical Removal: Grooming your cat daily will prevent and remove ticks from your cat. In addition, regular warm baths can also help with the prevention of ticks that may be infected with harmful bacteria.
Controlling the Environment: Help prevent the development of Lyme disease by avoiding long grass and bushes where ticks tend to live and hide. In addition, as a pet owner you can treat your yard with chemicals that will prevent ticks from coming into your yard and house.
Tick Attachment Prevention: The easiest and most effective way to prevent Lyme disease is controlling the attachment of ticks on your cat. There is a variety of cheap pet meds that can be used to prevent and kill ticks.
Frontline Plus: Frontline Plus is a medication that can be used on cats and dogs to repel ticks and fleas from attaching onto your pet. This medication kills 100% of these nasty creatures within 12 hours. It is long lasting, waterproof and will last for an entire month.
Advantage II: Advantage II is another medication that can also be used on cats and dogs for protection against ticks, fleas, and lice. They control ticks while killing within the first 12 hours after applying. This medication and prevention last up to 8 weeks.
Revolution: Revolution is a medication prevention for ticks and other parasites. This medication is to be used monthly.
Capstar: Capstar is a treatment used on cats and dogs. Capstar is great since it can be used on kittens four weeks of age, pregnant and nursing cats. This prevention begins working within 30 minutes and kills most of the ticks within four hours after been taken.
Additional Safety Preventions:
Many veterinarians promote and suggest the idea of keeping your cat indoors as often as possible to prevent Lyme disease.
However, that may be hard as it is important for your cat to get fresh air in nature’s surroundings. However, you can use tick collars to prevent ticks from launching onto your cat.
If you are in an area where Lyme disease is common, it is important to check your cat on a regular basis of ticks being attached to their fur and/or skin.