In the days of my youth (she said, puffing away on her mahogany pipe), I would roam amidst the Pennsylvania foliage with reckless abandon. That is, until one day, my knee swelled up like a water balloon. It was The Lymes. And no, they never found the tick what done it to me, which may or may not keep me up at night even to this very day. Other than a general sense of lethargy and a knee the size of a softball, I exhibited no other sign of having this surreptitious condition.
That’s the trick about Lyme Disease – it can be confusing because the symptoms are difficult to pin down. Like, is it the flu? Is it Mono? Haha, who knows! Have fun trying to figure it out, though, because in some cases, if you don’t find it in time, Lyme can just linger in your system. Forever. Hooray! Oh, and it gets better because this disease can affect dogs and cats as well. Even our beloved furbabies are at risk. But don’t worry, because there are ways to keep your cat safe, and I’m gonna show ya how.
How To Spot Lyme Disease In Cats
Lyme Disease, or, if you’re fancy and call it by it’s scientific name; Borrelia burgdorferi, is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted by deer ticks. This super fun disease affects an estimated 300,000 people each year. Cats and dogs are also at risk with the most common symptom being lameness in one or more legs. Lyme causes the joints to become inflamed, which can render your sweet baby bean immobile. If you think your cat may have Lyme, this is the first and foremost symptom to keep an eye out for. Other symptoms include lethargy and lack of appetite. Unfortunately, in some cases, a cat with Lyme may not exhibit any symptoms at all, which is why it’s so important to make every effort to prevent this disease from befalling your cat in the first place.
Unlike dogs, cats do not have a vaccine option available to counteract Lyme. However, products like Frontline offer liquid treatment options for keeping those nasty ticks out from under your honeybun’s skin. Simply apply the liquid between your cat’s shoulder blades (where she can’t lick it off) and voila, you’re done. You should, however, test to make sure that your cat is not allergic by applying a very small amount and seeing how she does for a few days. There have been recorded cases of animals having bad skin reactions to this product, so just like everything else in this big, scary, tick-infested world – make sure you try it before you go all-out. Oral treatments are available as well, but may not be as easily administered to cats who are finicky about taking pills. Additionally, don’t overlook the benefits of a good old-fashioned tick and flea collar, especially if you have a cat who spends most of his days outside. Though not the most effective option, it is the cheapest and most convenient.
Secondly, make sure that you or your vet conduct periodic tick checks. With a fine-toothed cat comb, gently brush your dumpling’s glorious locks backwards and scan the area. This is especially important for long-haired cats, as their fur can easily hide any vampiric wee ticks lurking between your baby’s follicles. If you do spot one, make sure to use a tweezer or something similar and get as close to the skin as you can before trying to pluck it off. Ticks are huge jerks with absolutely no sense of self control (think of them as the frat boys of the insect world) and they will literally bury themselves as deep as they possibly can into their hosts. I’m talking full in, head first. Like, your cat’s body is essentially a beer keg at a house party to them – and it’s not difficult to pull their body out… without the head. Yeah. I know. So gross dude.
Treatment and Prognosis
Should your cat contract Lyme Disease, get her to the vet immediately. A blood test will need to be done to confirm that it is indeed Lyme, as well as a possible test on any fluid from the affected joints (again, if there are any). If you were lucky enough to find the offending tick, an analysis of the affected skin area will take place as well. In most cases, your cat will be treated in outpatient visits, unless the disease has been in her system for so long that she needs to be hospitalized. In most cases, a simple antibiotic regimen will be offered and Sir Reginald Fluffymits will be back to his old self in no time.
That being said, making sure you have a prevention plan in place is paramount to your cat’s health, as well as routine visits to the vet and periodic tick checks. Keeping your beloved cat safe isn’t nearly as hard as one might think. Though sometimes very dangerous, Lyme Disease is easily preventable – and your cat will thank you!