“Well I don’t know where they come from
But they sure do come… they give me cat scratch fever”…
Wait a second, wrong “Cat Scratch Fever” – today we’re talking about the bacterial infection which can be spread by cats, not the 1977 Song by Ted Nugent.
Also known as “Cat Scratch Disease”, today we will explore what it is, how it spreads, and what to watch out for.
If you suspect your cat may have cat scratch disease, or any other infection, your local veterinarian can help.
What Is Cat Scratch Fever?
Cat scratch fever is caused when a cat carrying the bacteria bartonella licks an open wound, or bites or scratches skin hard enough to break the skin.
Although complications in people are rare, when they occur they can be serious including affecting the brain, eyes, and heart.
These complications are more likely to occur in young children and those with weakened immune systems, so it is important to be aware of this when your cat is around young children, or those who are ill.
Symptoms Of Cat Scratch Fever
If your cat has cat scratch disease, you might not know as most cats display no symptoms.
When symptoms do occur they can include the following:
- Swollen glands
- Lack of appetite
- Laboured breathing
It can also result in inflammation of organs, which will be hard to determine without a visit to the vet.
If your cat has had a history of fleas or ticks, it’s especially important to be aware of these symptoms.
Symptoms Of Cat Scratch Fever In Dogs
Cat scratch fever isn’t just limited to cats.
If your dog comes in contact with an infected cat, they could also pick up the disease.
Symptoms to watch for in dogs include:
- A red bump at the site of the scratch
- Irregular heartbeat
Humans Can Catch The Fever Too!
The presentation of cat scratch fever in humans is very similar to that of dogs.
Look for a round, red bump at the site of the scratch or bite, as well as swelling and signs of infection.
Other symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal Cramps
How Does Cat Scratch Fever Spread?
Cat scratch fever is spread to cats by fleas.
Namely through flea bites and contact with flea droppings – cats then scratch and bite at the fleas and pick up the infection in their teeth and claws.
Once a cat has the infection, they can also spread it to other cats, dogs, and humans through biting or scratching, when those actions result in broken skin.
Preventing Cat Scratch Fever
If you want to prevent the chances of your cat contracting cat scratch fever, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Ideally, keeping your cats indoors is one of the biggest steps you can take to prevent this and other disease, as this limits their chance of coming in contact with fleas, or stray cats.
Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed, to prevent them from picking up the bacteria under their claws is important.
Flea control is also a key preventative measure.
Speak to your vet about the best flea control products to use, and keep in mind that many over-the-counter flea prevention products are not safe.
Use a flea comb to inspect your cat for flea droppings, and if you have had the misfortune of having fleas in your home keep things under control by vacuuming frequently and calling a pest control company if needed.
If you’re scratched or bitten by your cat, be sure to wash the area immediately with soap and running water, or hydrogen peroxide.
If you have a dog and are worried about infection, be sure to use an oral or topical flea prevention product.
Book an Appointment at Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Do you think your cat has contracted cat scratch fever, maybe from some kitty next door?
Has your outdoor cat come home with some fresh wounds and you are worried about the chance of infection?
Perhaps your dog got into an altercation with the local stray cat, and now you’re worried about the possibility of disease?
For these, or any other issues which may arise with your furry friend, Bickford Park Animal Hospital is here to help.
Contact us today to set up an appointment.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.