Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases on Earth.Fortunately, it’s very uncommon to find in cats. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Lyme disease in cats doesn’t present obvious symptoms, which is why it’s important to be aware of the illness and its causes.
What is Lyme disease?Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that is present in both wild an domesticated animals. It’s caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium species of Borrelia burgdorferi. Though most known cases of the disease in cats was found during experimental infection, it’s not yet known whether it occurs naturally in felines and still poses a risk. Ninety-five percent of confirmed Lyme disease cases in the United States are spread across 14 states. Cat owners living in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin have the biggest cause for concern. The disease is typically transmitted by deer ticks. One of the biggest problems with Lyme disease is that outward symptoms are not often seen until it’s too late. It’s important to know what you’re looking for so that you can get your feline friend the treatment she needs before the disease turns fatal.
What are the symptoms?The symptoms of Lyme disease are not always obvious. Many cats never exhibit symptoms at all. One of the predominant signs of the disease in cats is lameness. Lyme disease causes an inflammation of the joints that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a cat to use its limbs. This typically presents as acute lameness, or “shifting-leg lameness, wherein the cat will experience lameness in one leg for three to four days, then shift to the other leg for another few days. The inflammation can cause pain in the limbs but is treatable with antibiotics. Cats also develop kidney problems when contracting Lyme disease. Left untreated, it can result in total kidney failure. Other symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty breathing