Mom and I spent the a lot of time this weekend missing Mittens. We also did some research on bobcat fever, the disease that killed her. Since we had never heard of it before, we want to make sure that others who may not know of this illness get the information to keep their cats safe.
Bobcat fever is also called cytauxzoonosis. Only cats can get it. They get it from ticks. Once the tick bites a cat, she will start looking and acting sick in about a week. Cats die pretty quickly after they start looking sick. Mittens died only 3 days later.
The only way to tell if your cat has bobcat fever is to take her to a vet. The vet will take some blood and look for the bug that causes the illness.
When a cat has bobcat fever, she gets depressed, withdrawn, and doesn't move much. She has a fever and doesn't eat. One of the articles Mom and I read said "the disease rages through the body attacking blood vessels in all organs; heart, lungs, liver, kidney, spleen. Under such systematic attack the liver & kidneys quickly overload with damaged blood cells & the body becomes jaundiced. In the end phase, the cat begins to vocalize frequently & at greater & greater length, a heart-rending agonal cry, hemorrhages, & dies." (The Helios Project).
The sickness is passed from bobcats to our cats by ticks. The bobcats don't get sick (I don't understand why. That doesn't seem fair!) Only our cats get sick.
Bobcat fever has been reported in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois (southern),Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas & Virginia.
Dr. Karen told Mom we should keep our cats inside since it is the only way to be sure they don't pick up any ticks. But Mom said most of our cats are strays that have been out on their own so long, it's almost impossible to keep them in. One actually ripped through a screen to get out. Since that is not an option, Mom said we will use the best tick killer and tick repellant we can find. And since even that is not a guarantee, the cats will get the same daily combing that we (Oscar, Austin, Ginger, and I) get before bed. Dad combs each of us with a fine-toothed comb. Now he will comb the cats too.
Mom and I hope this information will help other cats. The only good thing is that Mom made the choice to let Mittens go to sleep before she got to the end of the illness where she would have been in lots of pain. If you have any other questions about the disease, Mom and I found a great website called The Helios Project.