Local cat battles Bobcat Fever, vets warn of deadly disease

GRAVETTE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — One tick bite and your cat could fall victim to a deadly disease.

Local veterinarians are seeing more and more cats coming in with what’s known as “Bobcat Fever.”

Wayne Nichols is holding his cat “Kitten” extra tight because it wasn’t all that long ago when he wasn’t sure if the little guy was going to survive.

“She gave him a 50/50 chance of living,” Nichols said.

All because of a tick bite.

“He was right out here in the woods laying on a log and he came in and he was biting on his back and I pulled a big old black tick off him,” Nichols said.

Within days of the bite, Nichols says he noticed Kitten was moping around and wouldn’t eat.

“I took him to the vet and she opened his eyes and the white up in his eyes was hemorrhaged. There was blood in his eyes and she opened his mouth and his throat had swelled shut,” Nichols said. “She said I know exactly what he’s got. He’s got Bobcat Fever.”

Veterinary Clinician Dr. Marion Harris with Country View Animal Care Center describes Bobcat Fever as a blood parasite cats can get.

“It’s an infection that actually involves their whole body. They run a really high fever,” Harris said.

If left untreated, it could be fatal for felines.

“It’s probably the most serious disease we face in cats right now,” Harris said.

But Dr. Harris says cats can recover from the disease if it’s caught early enough.

“The earlier you can start treatment, the better the odds are of survival,” Harris said.

“He’s getting back to normal now,” Nichols said. “He’s my buddy. He sleeps with me, he’s got his own pillow and everything. I couldn’t do without him.”

Even if your cat is an indoor cat, they can still get Bobcat Fever.

Dr. Harris says the only way to prevent it is by stopping ticks from getting on your cat. So if you have a dog that goes in and out of the house, they can be bringing ticks inside to your cat.

He says tick control is the best line of defense against the pests.