POTEAU, Ark. — A deadly parasite called bobcat fever is on the rise among domestic cats in the southern U.S.
KFSM reported that more cases are being reported in Arkansas, Oklahoma and other southern states as temperatures rise and more cats become exposed to ticks.
Experts warn the disease is often deadly.
"It is passed from the tick, when passed from cat to cat," veterinarian Phil Chitwood told KFSM. "It's transmitted by the tick feeding on the bobcat, then feeding on the domestic cat. It's usually fatal in the domestic cat."
Sharon Richards told KFSM that three of her cats contracted bobcat fever while roaming around her home in Poteau, Arkansas.
One of them died from the disease.
“I had never heard of it until I moved here, and one of my cats was out playing in the yard and she came walking up the driveway,” said Richards. “She had been fine the morning before, and she was so lethargic, she couldn’t hardly move.”
Richards told KFSM she spent thousands of dollars on treatment and is keeping an eye on her other pets.
“It’s a constant worry that the others are going to get it,” Richards said. “I keep the collars on them and we put out tick pellets where the cats go so we can really knock it down.”
According to the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), signs of bobcat fever, or cytauxzoon felis, include anemia and depression, with symptoms including high fever and jaundice. Most cats die within two weeks of contracting the disease.
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