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How to tell when your cat has Lyme disease
Now that spring is here, people and pets alike are wanting to spend more and more time outside. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones that are out enjoying the weather. Ticks are also out and about, and are more likely now than ever to cling to your pet and spread Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is an infection that is typically spread by deer ticks when they latch onto and suck the blood from your cat or dog. It can cause arthritis and lameness in your feline, and if left untreated, may cause more serious problems to the cat's heart, kidneys and brain. Lyme disease is rather uncommon in cats, but it is still important to know the clinical signs that your feline might be showing, since Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world.
Knowing the symptoms
Many cats with Lyme disease do not exhibit any symptoms at all, but those that do may experience recurrent lameness caused by inflammation around the joints. Others might have acute lameness that only lasts three to four days, then comes back weeks later on the same or a different limb. Some cats may also develop kidney problems. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, fever, lack of appetite, depression and swollen lymph nodes. Your cat also may seem sensitive to the touch or walk stiffly with an arched back.
Once the vet diagnoses your cat with Lyme disease, it will most likely be prescribed an antibiotic to kill the disease. You will be instructed to keep your feline warm, dry and calm until its symptoms have improved. Pet products like the Heated Cat Pad may come in handy to soothe your cat's achey joints and give it a cozy place to curl up as it recovers. Most cats recover in about four weeks, but not all. Some symptoms of joint pain continue even after the bacteria has been killed, so you might consider giving your cat a joint pain reliever later on like Prednisone.
Preventing the disease
Outdoor cats are particularly susceptible to Lyme disease, since they are more likely to encounter the parasitic bugs. All cats should be on flea and tick preventative pet drugs like Frontline Plus or Pet Armor, the generic version. These medications protect your pet for about 30 days, so it's important to administer them each month.