Ticks are posing a bigger threat than usual this summer

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Updated: 7/03/2013 8:37 am
Summer is an enjoyable time to be outside. But for some cats it can be fatal.

Cats that spend time in tall grasses could get tick bites-and those ticks could be carrying a disease known as Bobcat Fever and the ticks believed to carry the disease are called Lone Star ticks.

"Most people have probably seen a Lone Star tick even if they're not familiar with them," Susan Nelson, Ph.D. said. "They are the ones that have a bright white spot on the back of them."

With tick season in full swing, Lone Star ticks can be found almost anywhere, but especially in rural areas. So cat owners with outdoor cats need to take extra precautions.

Any cat that goes outside is at risk for getting this disease, but it does not affect humans or other animals. Cats may start showing signs of Bobcat Fever within 5-20 days after the tick bites.

"First what you are probably gonna notice is they are going to be really lethargic and tired acting," Nelson said. "Their appetite is going to start going down. They may feel very hot to you because they will tend to run a high fever early in the course of the disease. As the disease progresses, you might see breathing problems, dehydration and the whites of their eyes or the inside of their ears might start looking yellow as they start getting jaundiced."

Nelson said that for the majority of cats this is fatal. Veterinarians have yet to find a vaccine to prevent Bobcat Fever but they do have some tips to help protect your cat.

"What we do need to do for our cats is to try to do tick control and then daily tick checks on these cats if you can, check them over, head to toe, between their toes too. Be looking for
any kind of ticks," Nelson said.

Another way to help prevent ticks latching onto your pet is to keep the grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed in areas where your cat may roam.

"But there again the absolute best way is to keep them indoors and away from any possible tick bites," Nelson said.

The disease is called Bobcat Fever because bobcats are considered the main reservoir for the disease. It is typically not fatal for bobcats.

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