NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — A disease carried by the lone star tick is causing more cats to become sick every year in Northwest Arkansas.
Bobcat fever is caused by a blood parasite that infects domestic cats. One veterinarian says he’s seeing more cases than ever before.
“I took them to the vet but it was too late,” said Marcia Donley, the founder of NWA Community Cat Project.
Donley lives in downtown Fayetteville, an area she thought her cats would be safe from ticks.
“They were lethargic one day, they were throwing up the next day. Then they were really hot and then they died,” Donley said.
Three of her cats were bitten by a lone star tick and contracted bobcat fever, a disease that’s becoming increasingly prevalent.
“We see it almost every day it comes every spring it just gets more and more where at times we will have four of five hospitalized in here,” Dr. Jack Herring, owner Wedington Animal Hospital, said.
Dr. Herring says cats who show symptoms of jaundice, a high fever, and lethargy need to receive treatment as soon as possible for a better chance of survival.
“It ultimately infects the blood cells of the cat. It gets our domestic cats. It lives naturally in the environment and it infects bobcats regularly. They get sick for a day or two, they get better. Still they become carriers of it. So a tick that gets our bobcats and then makes its way to our domestic cats makes them very ill,” Dr. Herring said.
Once a cat recovers from bobcat fever it becomes a carrier of it, which can unfortunately lend itself to more problems.
“I’ve seen this disease wipe out entire neighborhoods of cats,” Dr. Herring said.
That’s why flea and tick prevention is highly recommended.
“Right now we recommend the seresto collar as well as bravecto the topical flee and tick medicines — even better than that keep that indoors and don’t ever let them do outside.”
1. Bobcat Fever Project Arkansas raises funds and awareness through the sale of paw-print wares. For more information, visit www.bobcatfever.com.
2. NWA Cat Community Project – To improve the lives of the estimated 50,000 community cats (stray, abandoned, or feral) living in north west Arkansas by providing low cost spay/neuter, TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) training and equipment, public education, and increased support and legal protection to colony caretakers, facilitating the humane management of community cats, ultimately decreasing their numbers in shelters and at large.