OKLAHOMA CITY – As the temperatures begin to rise across the state, certain pests are bound to make their presence known.
Now, pet owners are being warned about a deadly disease that is spreading across Oklahoma.
Bobcat Fever is an acute, often fatal tick-borne disease. Experts say cats become infected after being bitten by an infected Lone Star tick. Up to 15 days after being bitten, the cat will become ill with symptoms of lethargy and decreased appetite.
They will soon have a high body temperature, increased respiratory rate, clotting abnormalities and damage to their liver and kidneys. The infection is often complicated by blood clots. Without treatment, Bobcat Fever can kill within a few days.
“If we can get to it early enough, there are therapies we can do that will help the cat, but most cats will get the disease and pass away,” Dr. David Biles, with Westwood Veterinary Hospital, told KFOR in 2017.
Officials say it often strikes healthy, young adult cats who have access to or live outdoors.
“My husband had noticed a little bit of nasal discharge and a little blood in it at first, and he said ‘I think you need to look at Paws,’” Barbara Tarbutton told News 4 in 2017.
Tarbutton says she knew something wasn’t right with her cat, Paw Paws.
“And, he didn’t walk right, and I mean I threw my clothes on within 20 minutes and we were out of here to the vet,” she said.
Within hours, the vet diagnosed Paw Paws with a blood parasite known as Bobcat Fever.
The cat was given an expensive medicine used to treat the disease, but it was no use.
“He got one dose of it and, on the way home from the vet, he died. It was just I couldn’t believe it,” Tarbutton said.
Officials say Bobcat Fever is a seasonal infection with most cats becoming infected between March and September.
Veterinarians said pet owners should be vigilant and attempt to prevent tick bites in the first place.