1. Lyme disease
Also known as Lyme disease, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks are a carrier, passing them on to the animal while sucking its blood. The tick must be attached to the cat for about 48 hours to transfer bacteria into the animal’s bloodstream. If the tick is removed before this, transmission will not normally occur. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes and joints, and decreased appetite. In severe cases, animals may develop kidney disease, heart disease, or nervous system disorders. Oral antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. Currently, however, there is no vaccine against Lyme disease for cats.
Transmitted by both ticks and fleas, hemobartonellosis is caused by the body, which attacks red blood cells in the affected animal, leading to anemia and weakness. This condition applies to both dogs and cats. In cats, this disease is also referred to as feline infectious anemia. Antibiotic treatment should be given for several weeks, and some animals may need to be transfused.
Also known as rabbit fever, tularemia is caused by a bacterium transmitted by four varieties of ticks (although fleas can carry the disease). Cats are usually more affected than dogs. Symptoms in dogs include decreased appetite, depression and mild fever. Cats will show high fever, swollen lymph nodes, runny nose and possibly abscesses at the tick bite site. Antibiotics are used to treat tularemia for which there is no preventive vaccine. Keeping the animals indoors and using measures to prevent flea and tick infestations will help protect the animal from acquiring tularemia.
4. Babesiosis (pyroplasmosis)
Protozoa, these small animal-like unicellular organisms, are guilty when babesiosis is diagnosed in dogs and cats. Ticks carry the protozoan body to animals, which penetrates the red blood cells, causing anemia. Babesiosis symptoms can be severe, including paleness of the gums, depression, dark urine, fever and swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, the cat may experience circulatory collapse and go into shock. No vaccine for protection against babesiosis is currently available.
Cytauzazoonosis is a tick-borne disease found in cats. Cats with cytoezosis may have anemia, depression, high fever, difficulty breathing and jaundice (i.e. yellowing of the skin). Treatment often fails and death can occur as early as one week after infection. Immediate and aggressive treatment with specialized medications, intravenous fluids and supportive care is necessary. Cats that recover can be carriers of this disease throughout their lives. There is currently no vaccine against this disease, so it is important to prevent catching a tick.