Kelvine Bruce DVM walks you through some of the common causes, symptoms, and treatment of cat scratch fever in cats. You will also know when to seek professional help.
Cat scratch disease is also known as Feline Bartonella. The flea and tick-borne illness is picked up by cats from grooming or staying close to a broader.
During the early stages, the cat will not show any symptoms, but it is recommended to take her or him for the test.
However, if your feline friend is strictly an indoor cat, then chances of getting feline Bartonella are quite low, but it is good to be aware of the illness.
What is Cat Scratch Fever in Cats?
Cat scratch disease is an infection caused by a bacteria known as Bartonella henselae, and they originate from the feces of fleas or ticks on the cat skin.
The feline tends to contract the illness during the regular grooming or scratching of the fleas. Ticks are also responsible for the transmission of the infection after biting the cat skin.
How Is Feline Bartonella Transmitted?
Cat scratch fever is real, and it is usually caused by bacteria found in the feces of fleas or ticks on cat skin.
Cat owners living in an area that has a hot and humid climate usually see their feline friends suffering from the infection more.
The fleas excrete some feces that get stuck on the cat fur which later licks while grooming up frequently.
Ticks can also transmit the infection into your cat, especially if you live near woodlands or a cattle brooder.
Always develop the habit of checking your feline friend to confirm any signs of fleas, fleas’ bites, and ticks regularly.
The cat that has contracted the disease rarely show some symptoms during the first early stages. Always take her or him for a veterinarian lab test.
What Are the Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease?
Cat with the illness tend not to show symptoms during initial stages, and this can be difficult for the owner to make inferences.
Your feline friend will start to show signs like swollen glands, fever, and loss of appetite, vomiting, eye redness, sore muscles, and lethargy.
These, symptoms are enough to seek veterinarian help. The veterinarian will conduct some tests before recommending any treatment.
How Is Bartonella Treated In Cats?
Bartonella is not a deadly disease but somehow challenging to treat since the bacteria behind the infection are regarded as gram-negative.
The veterinarian will recommend strong antibiotics such as azithromycin to eliminate the bacteria causing the infection.
In case the infection is mild, the cat will develop more antibodies that will fight off the disease ultimately. Therefore, the vet will not administer any treatment until it shows signs of seriousness.
Can People Get Cat Scratch Fever?
Many people believe that the disease is only meant for cats, but this is not the case despite the suggestion of the disease name.
Cat scratch fever is a zoonotic disease, and this implies that it can be transmitted to human through cat scratch, bites, and petting.
According to veterinarians, young children are discouraged from playing with infected cats since their immune system is still weak, and they are likely to contract feline Bartonella.
If the cat happens to scratch or bites you by any chance, ensure to wash the area with antibacterial soap immediately and remember to keep it clean.
However, if you notice weird symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, swollen glands, tremors, and headache, then seek immediate medical help from your doctor.
How to Care for a Sick Feline
A cat that is tested positive with scratch fever will be subjected to antibiotics by a veterinarian.
Dealing with the cranky kitty when administering medication could be a bit overwhelming.
Here are some of the tips on how to care for a sick cat in the family:
- If the cranky kitty has been subjected to antibiotics, then remember to follow each pill with a sweet cat treat. You can even crush the tablet and mix with some mouthwatering wet food.
- Administer the medication to the cat when he or she is calm, and even when the environment is quiet.
- Set a room aside for your sick cat so that children will not have the opportunity to play with her or him until she feels better.
- Find time to cuddle your pet so that she cannot feel alienated from the family after falling sick. Remember to wash the hands thoroughly.
- When the cat is done with the dosage and regains energy back then take time to play with her. The playing will help to strengthen the bond between the two of you again.
Sources and References
- Evelyn E. Zuckerman. “Veterinarian’s Questions about Bartonella!” National Veterinary Laboratory.
- Christina A. Nelson et al. “Cat-Scratch Disease in the United States.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Edward B.Breitschwerdt. “Feline Bartonellosis and Cat Scratch Disease.” Science Direct.
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