Bobcat Fever Is Cat Killer

PAW’S CORNER
by Samantha Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I recently began hearing reports about something called “bobcat fever”,which affects cats. What is it, and how can I keep my cat safe? — Darlene G., Kansas City, Mo.

DEAR DARLENE: Bobcat fever, scientifically known as cytauxzoonosis, is a serious illness that has spread across the United States in recent years. It affects cats — not only domesticated cats, but wildcats and even tigers — and has a high mortality rate. It does not affect dogs.

Bobcat fever is spread through bites from infected ticks: A tick first bites and sucks blood from an already-infected cat, drops off then bites and infects another cat.

Leah Cohn, a University of Missouri veterinarian, said healthy outdoor cats are most at risk. ÒThe 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.

How can you keep your cat safe? Keep it indoors. If your cat must be outdoors, make sure it is treated regularly for fleas and ticks or wears a flea/tick collar. If your cat shows signs of illness — sluggishness and/or refusal to eat — or if you discover a tick on its fur or skin, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Cohn recently developed a more effective treatment for bobcat fever, which increased the survival rate for cats affected by this illness from less than 25 percent to nearly 60 percent. She also is doing research toward a vaccine for bobcat fever. In the meantime, prevention is the best medicine for this
disease.

Send your questions or tips to ask@pawscorner.com, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com.

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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