Protecting Your Pets

Protecting Your Pets
By: Holly Brantley

MAKANDA, IL --Is there a cat in your family? It could be in danger from the wild. A fatal disease, carried by bobcats, is showing up in Southern Illinois. Veterinarians say two cats hvae already died from the infection caused by ticks.
Karen Dunn has witnessed the disease first hand. The Dunns live in Makanda, Illinois. They often take in strays and provide love and medical care the cats probably would not get otherwise. Karen says her family recently took in two strays and cared for them only for a short time. Both of the cats died of a tick borne infection called Cytauxzoonosis. The disease spreads when the American Dog Tick feeds on an infected bobcat, and then feeds on a domestic cat.
"The reason both cats had it is simply that they both traveled in the same area, and had ticks on them that had both been on a bobcat that had been infected," said Dr. Brian Heuring of Stone Creek Veterinary Clinic in Makanda. Heuring treated both strays. He says most of the time the disease proves to be fatal.
To keep your pets healthy, Heuring says prevention is key. "The biggest thing you can do is prevent, prevent, prevent, when it comes to ticks," he said. Karen hope cat owners take his advice, "Take care of them like you would your children."
Heuring says he's surprised to see the disease show up so early in May. He stresses it is possible more cases will turn up as we head into the Summer months. Cats begin to show signs of the disease five to seven days after they are bitten by an infected tick. Those signs include a loss of appetite and depression. A rise in temperature is also a red flag your cat has been infected. Most cats will die within about two weeks.
The best way to protect your cat is to keep it indoors and be sure to use a tick preventative product. Heuring says they are still learning about the disease. Right now, it does not pose a threat to humans.