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What is Lyme Disease?

The type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease is transmitted by certain types of ticks, namely the deer tick in the US. These ticks will start to transmit the disease within 36-48 hours of attaching to the cat’s coat. Brushing your cat each time they come inside will help you spot a tick. If you remove the tick using a pair of tweezers within the first 48 hours, your cat will have a significantly reduced chance of contracting Lyme disease. Always wear gloves and sterilize your hands after removing a tick, because Lyme disease from ticks can also affect humans.

Lyme disease is incredibly rare in cats. In fact, it’s so rare that it has never been diagnosed in a house cat, or any other cat, outside of a laboratory. Lyme disease is much more common in dogs, but it is important to know the signs, as the disease can lead to other severe problems such as kidney failure, neurological dysfunction, joint damage, and cardiac conditions.

Lyme Disease Average Cost

From 503 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Cats

Even when they are infected, many cats won’t show any symptoms until the disease has caused more significant damage. This will take place usually around four weeks after the initial bite. It’s important to keep an eye out for these symptoms if you suspect your cat has Lyme disease:

  • Fever
  • Lameness or limping
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stiff and/or swollen joints or muscles

It is imperative that you take your cat to the vet immediately upon noticing symptoms.

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Causes of Lyme Disease in Cats

The primary cause of Lyme disease in cats is exposure to deer ticks or Western black-legged ticks, particularly in warm weather. These ticks transmit the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi when they bite an animal, not the disease itself. These bacteria cause Lyme disease, and spread through the bloodstream immediately after the bite. 

Ticks don’t jump from host to host like fleas; they crawl in the grass and await their host. The best way to protect your cat against Lyme disease is to practice prevention through the use of certain flea and tick medications. Always consult your vet regarding which one is safest for your cat, as cats can be sensitive to these types of medications.

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Diagnosis of Lyme Disease in Cats

The first step in diagnosing Lyme disease will be to carry out a physical examination of the cat. Your vet can also use a number of tests to determine whether or not your cat has Lyme disease. The most popular and effective diagnostic test is a blood analysis. Your vet will likely ask about your cat’s outdoor activity, as well as when you first noticed their symptoms.

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Treatment of Lyme Disease in Cats

Due to the rarity of Lyme disease in domestic cats, treatment methods are not as fully understood or clearly outlined as they are for dogs.

Most cases of Lyme disease are treated with a course of antibiotics. In some cases, though, antibiotics may not be entirely curative. Cats that are treated as soon as possible have a very good chance of making a full recovery. Limb and joint conditions caused by Lyme disease also respond rapidly to treatment. However, limb and joint symptoms may not clear up completely in many animals infected with the disease, even after treatment.

If Lyme disease remains untreated for several weeks, treatment and recovery may become prolonged. Untreated Lyme disease will cause irreversible damage to the tissues, particularly in the joints and limbs.

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Recovery of Lyme Disease in Cats

Recovery will depend on how long the cat has had Lyme disease and whether or not it has caused tissue damage. However, since there are so few cases of Lyme disease in cats, there is little information available on the treatment methods and recovery prognoses of tissue that has been irreversibly damaged by Lyme disease.

While there is a vaccine for dogs that will help prevent Lyme disease, there is no preventative vaccine for cats, so you’ll want to ensure you take necessary preventative measures at home. Always brush your cat carefully after it goes outside, checking their coat carefully for ticks. If you do see a tick, always wear gloves during removal. Never touch the tick with your bare hands, and only remove it using a pair of tweezers. Ticks are notoriously difficult to kill, so ensure that you dispose of them in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.

Consult your vet regarding which tick and flea medications are safe to administer to your cat. The vet may prescribe a round of antibiotics for use at home. Your vet may also schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure that the disease has been fully eradicated.

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Lyme Disease Average Cost

From 503 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$650

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Lyme Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lucy

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domestic short hair

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3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I work in a wildlife rehabilitation facility and have recently been exposed to an animal with ticks and today found a bulls eye rash on my arm. I did not ever notice a tick on my person or feel the bite. I live in the city, an hour away from work, but I have an indoor cat at home. What are the chances the tick stayed on me and happened to get on her? No symptoms - she's her old self - I'm just worried about the possibility that I transmitted a tick to her.

July 20, 2018

Lucy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Ticks can stay feeding on a human for a long time especially if left undisturbed (days even); however if the tick has a good meal on you it shouldn’t be looking for another meal anytime soon. You should ensure that Lucy has an effective flea and tick topical spot on medication and check her regularly. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 20, 2018

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Snowball

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Cat

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Lethargy, Weak,

Could my cat have lymes disease because he's a house cat but got out and isn't acting like himself. He's usually very social & vocal but now all he does is lay around and is having troublw meowing

May 29, 2018

Snowball's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are many reasons that Snowball may be having that behavior, and Lyme disease is not common in cats. More common are systemic diseases, infectious disease, and other problems that cats get. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can examine her, possibly run lab work, and determine what might be going on so that they can help her.

May 29, 2018

Yes

July 2, 2018

Pilar H.

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Kit kat

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Cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Red Circle

I just removed a tick from my cat but there is a red circle around the spot I removed the tick. She seems normal I have a photo of the spot. I’m just wondering if it’s lime. She is on tick medicine but I’m not sure what to do. She is acting normal. Should I take her to the vet?

Feb. 28, 2018

Kit kat's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Ticks can cause a local irritation, that typically resolves within a few days. If she is on a tick prevention, the tick was probably not attached long enough to transmit any disease - that's one reason why we use tick prevention. If the area is not resolving over the next few days, or if KitKat is lethargic or inappetant, it would be a good idea to have her seen.

Feb. 28, 2018

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Yoda

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fatigue
Lameness

HI: MY Siamese cat Yoda has been tested positive for Lyme disease. This occurred some months ago and was probably misdiagnosed. We finally had blood work done and the test results were positive. We have done a 3 week treatment of anti-biotics. I there anything else that we can do. She has shown improvement but she is by no means back to normal. Steve

July 26, 2017

Yoda's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Treatment for Lyme Disease involves antibiotic treatment with doxycycline for a minimum period of four weeks; other antibiotics may be used but doxycycline covers other infections which may be found along with Lyme Disease. Apart from antibiotics, the only other treatment is supportive and symptomatic care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

My ragdoll cat has Lyme disease. She is on a slew of antibiotics including doxycycline amoxicillian and orbax along with onsior and an anti seizure medicine and cyproheptadine. She basically lays there breathing. We force feed her 6 times a day and we hold her in the litter box to pee. This is the 2nd week of treatment. I'm having a very hard time finding information on the duration of illness, what to expect, length of time, and prognosis. She did have a few days where she was able to walk and eat on her own but then she had a major set back. Is it normal to get a little better than worse again? Is her just laying there breathing normal? We don't want to put her down at all but we also don't want to prolong the inevitable. However we are hopeful she will get better, but seeing her just laying there is heartbreaking. She's such a wonderful indoor only cat and it's so wrong she has this tick disease. Is there anything else we could be doing for Her? How long does it take for them to start walking again?

July 26, 2017

Kerri S.

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Simba

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American

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Lethargy
Limping
Loss Of Appetite
Jointpain

I picked a tick off my kitty and immediately gave him a preventative treatment for fleas/ticks. Nothing seemed amiss for about three weeks, when he became very lethargic. Unfortunately, we are too poor to take him to the vet, so I waited. It got worse. Once he stopped eating and drinking, and started limping, we made the appointment. The vet wad great, but refused to diagnose Lyme's. Simba was prescribed a course of antibiotics and given subcutaneous fluids. They tested his urine to make sure he wasn't blocked, even though I knew he wasn't. It took three days for Simba to feel better and start moving around again. He just stayed in the same spot until then. After 5 days, he's eating and drinking again. One side effect of the medication Doxycycline is that his mouth is bleeding. Hopefully it doesn't cause too much damage before it's through. We thought he was going to die, and he nearly did, so his recovery has been a blessing. His vet bill was $114.05

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Cody

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Maine Coon

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Weakness, Limping
Weakness, Limping, Loss Of Appetite

My Maine Coon male (11 yrs) showed signs of limping, lethargy, lack of appetite last August. I thought he may have been bitten by something outside. blood tests revealed both Lyme disease and one of the other bacteria. Antibiotics were administered, however, he has never fully recovered. Still limps on front legs, back end sort of rolls over on its own and sometimes makes him fall. Very discouraging, he is now on Glucosamine shots and also in his food. Anything else that can be done?

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Omega

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Bengal

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Deep Wound

Hi everyone, we have a 5 months old cat. She's gone outside last week and came back meowling in a very strange way and limping on one side. We soon understood something happen because as soon as we were stroking her on one of her arm, she would scream and struggled to walk. The next day, i found a Little Cut under her fur and thought she might have been biten by a tick so we cleaned the little wound and left it to heal. however, things have gotten worse. She had a big lump under her fur on the other side which was growing day by day and yesterday, coming back from work, the wound was deeply open and she started to "eat" herself to the point where the wound was 3cm wide, very deep and some flesh was missing. We strapped her with sterilised compressed and put a bandage around her so she would stop the self trauma. Can you give me some advice as so why she would "eat herself" to the bone and is it dangerous for us too as i have 3 children, i am worried for them too now. thank you!!

Lyme Disease Average Cost

From 503 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$650

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