Tick-tock

“But it happened so fast,” the owner says to me. “One second she was fine, and the next, she just seemed lifeless.”

I breathe a heavy sigh as I look at the beautiful white cat cradled limply in her favorite blanket. The owner looks at me with pleading concern as I gently lift her pet, Missy, onto the table for an examination.

It’s obvious that Missy is in excellent shape for 4-year-old cat. She has a clean, shiny coat. She is in good body condition. Her crystal blue eyes show no signs of disease. I feel over her body and detect no signs of injury or trauma. From a distance, you wouldn’t see anything wrong at all. However, as I look in her mouth, I can see that her gums are extremely pale. My nurse reads out that her body temperature is only 94.1 (very low). I lift Missy’s head, but she is not strong enough to keep it up. Her eyes stare ahead at me as her head drifts back down onto her blanket.

My heart sinks as I start to process the likely diagnosis. I take a small sample of blood for microscopic exam and send it with my nurse.

“Does she go outside?” I ask the owner.

“Yes,” she replies.

Although I know what the answer will be, I ask if they have seen any ticks on Missy.

“No, none,” she replies.

I nod, but I also know that it’s extremely rare to actually see ticks on a cat. They are compulsive groomers, so they often consume the ticks before owners can find them.

I continue my questions. “Have you applied any flea and tick prevention?”

She shakes her head, “No.”

The nurse pages me to let me know that the sample is ready for examination, so I excuse myself from the room.

As the slide comes into focus, devastation pushes the air from my lungs.

“It’s cytaux,” I announce to the empty room.

“Cytaux” as we call it, is scientifically named cytauxzoon felis. The common name is Bobcat Fever. This tick borne disease is incredibly aggressive and deadly. If your cat becomes infected, every second counts. The sooner we are able to start treatment, the better our chances are at saving your cat’s life.

To learn more about this disease, click here.

This disease is devastating, and at Northside Vet Hospital, we typically diagnose 5-10 cases every spring. The most common time of year we care for this tick borne illness is from March to June. While there have been some advances in our ability to treat this deadly disease, there is absolutely no guarantee that infected patients will survive. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth ten-thousand pounds of cure.

At Northside, there are two products that we feel are worthy of recommending for prevention of this disease.
1. Seresto Collar
2. Bravecto (12 week topical)

While there are many other types of tick prevention available, we do not currently recommend them. The most common problems that we see with these other preventatives are safety and efficacy. Some products are borderline toxic to cats (permethrin based products). Others do not kill ticks fast enough to prevent disease transmission (fipronil based products).

The products that we do recommend can be purchased through our hospital. Additionally, Seresto Collars can be purchased at any major pet supply store.
*While these products can also be purchased from online supplies, we highly discourage this, as these products will NOT be guaranteed by the manufacturers!

For more information on the Seresto or Bravecto products, please call us at 405-273-3700.

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