What is feline lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, and the same disease affects cats, dogs, and humans. It is transferred between hosts by ticks, which carry the bacteria in the blood and spread it as they bite you or your pet. It is prevalent to different degrees in different regions depending on what the conditions are like for ticks.
What are the symptoms in cats?
Cats do not show the same symptoms of people. The symptoms are, in fact, very general and it is hard to diagnose without a test. Cats will seem to be in pain, may begin limping, and may lose their appetite. The cat may run fevers frequently. Because of the limpness, the cat may collapse suddenly, and it may appear to be walking stiffly. These symptoms may be delayed for quite some time after the cat initially gets infected - in fact, in many cases it can be six months to a year later.
People will get slightly different symptoms, usually starting out with a rash around the tick bite. That does not happen in pets.
Can I catch it from my cat?
You can't catch it just by being around your cat - BUT you can catch it from your cat if a tick bites the cat and then bites you. You will need to take more serious precautions against ticks if your cat has lyme disease. Keeping your cat as an indoor cat is the best one, as it will not be exposed to ticks as frequently. Even if your cat is only allowed indoors, if it has this then it should still be getting medicine that kills ticks year-round.
What is the treatment?
Antibiotics, usually, which will kill off the bacteria that causes it. This can get kind of complicated and can take a long time to fully kill off the bacteria. Three to four weeks is usually the most common recommendation. Often vets have to switch antibiotics several times. It is much more effective if you begin treatment in the early stages of the disease. Tetracycline is one of the most common, but there are several others.
If your cat doesn't have Lyme disease, or even if it gets it and is being treated, you should always attempt tick prevention efforts as a way to keep both them and you from getting it in the first place. You should get a tick medication - some specific brands work on both fleas and ticks, such as Frontline. Even cats that have been successfully treated for it can get it again if another tick bites them, so you need to be on your guard. Also, there is no vaccine for cats (there is one for dogs) so you have to focus more on killing the ticks.
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