Bobcat fever threat rising in Kansas as summer progresses

The arrival of summer has ushered in the threat of bobcat fever (cytauxzoon felis) in Kansas and other Southeastern states, veterinarians from Kansas State University are warning.

The tick-borne illness that ignores humans and dogs but is often fatal to cats is at its height in late spring and early summer, Kansas State University reported. 

According to Susan Nelson, veterinarian and clinical associate professor at Kansas State University's Veterinary Health Center, there are several symptoms of bobcat fever that veterinarians and pet owners can watch for as tick season reaches its peak:

  • Cat is lethargic and tired
  • Decreased appetite
  • High fever early in the disease
  • Breathing problems
  • Dehydration
  • Whites of the cats's eyes or inside of the ears are jaundiced
  • Lower body temperature late in the disease

Nelson explained that people should be on the lookout for a more recently discovered carrier of the disease - the lone star tick, which has a bright white spot on its back. Experts are now recognizing the lone star tick as a carrier of bobcat fever, whereas the long-held belief was that only American dog ticks carry the disease, she said. 

Nelson offered several tips that veterinarians can give clients to help cats avoid tick bites, including:

  • Use tick control medications on both cats and dogs
  • Keep cats indoors if possible
  • Keep a well-maintained yard with short grass and shrubbery if the cat goes outside
  • Do daily tick checks on cats, including looking between their toes