Cat Tick Bite Symptoms

Cat tick bite symptoms can vary depending upon several factors. Often there will be no symptoms and no reason to suspect that a tick bite was ever present. Occasionally, local irritation will occur including redness, itching or possible pain near the bite. Tick-borne illnesses and disease can cause symptoms, as can reactions to a tick's saliva. There are many different types of ticks and some of these carry toxins and other types of organisms that can threaten your cat's life. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses may not show up until days or weeks after the bite. For this reason, it's especially important to know about tick bite symptoms in cats.

Lyme Disease Caused by Tick Bites

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by certain ticks. Most infections are caused by the brown deer tick, and the disease is transmitted after the tick burrows into the cat's skin. Research suggests that it takes 10 to 12 hours for the disease to transmit from the tick to the cat, so ticks should be removed as soon as they're spotted. If symptoms such as loss of appetite, fever or fatigue begin to manifest, especially after discovery or removal of a tick, Lyme disease may be a possibility. Cats may also experience stiff joints or sudden collapse when infected with this bacteria.

Ticks Can Cause Rabbit Fever in Cats

While rabbit fever, or tularemia, is more common in rabbits and rodents, it can affect cats as well. Ticks carrying one of two types of a bacteria called Francisella tularensis can cause infection. Tularemia is spread through tick bites, or when a cat eats an infected rodent. Kittens are more susceptible, but cats of any age are at risk. If this infection is caused by a tick bite, cats may experience abscesses at the site of the bite. Enlarged lymph nodes and high fever can show up quickly after infection. In about a week's time, discharge may be seen coming from the nose and eyes. Cats may also develop a rash. If left untreated, abscesses can begin to develop internally as well. A blood test can determine the existence of tularemia and it can be treated with antibiotics.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Cats

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can affect any organ in a cat's body. This disease is transmitted within 5 to 20 hours by a tick bite. Symptoms of this infection are similar to those of other tick-borne illnesses, including fever, decreased appetite and swollen or painful joints. RMSF can also cause uveitis or hemorrhages under the skin.

Other Tick-Borne Illnesses in Cats

There are many other illnesses that are transmitted through tick bites and can affect your cat's health. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Feline babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Southern tick-associated rash illness
  • Colorado tick fever
  • Powassan encephalitis

Most display similar general symptoms. If your cat experiences any of these symptoms, or begins to act abnormally after recently having been bitten by a tick, it's recommended to take action quickly to determine if infection is present.