Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Cats

The Lyme disease in cats may be transmitted by ticks. However, the disease is less frequent in cats, as cats tend to groom often and remove the ticks which will not be able to release their toxins in the cat’s blood. The early removal of ticks (within 4 hours of the tick bite) decreases the chances of transmission if the Lyme disease. However, if your cat shows a few signs of Lyme disease you should get some veterinary help.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Cats

The symptoms of the Lyme disease in cats will manifest a few weeks after the cat got infected. The signs of the disease may include:

  • Elevated fever
  • Lack of appetite, may be also due to the joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes, may be felt when palpating the pet
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Lameness
  • Swelling of the joints causing difficulty to move
  • Lethargy; the cat may sleep more hours
  • Hiding behavior
  • Aggressiveness and possibly excessive meowing

If the disease advances, it may cause kidney failure in felines.

In rare cases, the nervous system may be affected and the cat may show symptoms such as lack of coordination, confusion, circling or dilated pupils.

The symptoms may not be present in certain cats with a strong immune system. In weaker cats the symptoms may be more severe and the cat will need to get veterinary help to prevent complications or death.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease

The Lyme disease may be diagnosed judging by the symptoms and by performing a few tests that will confirm the presence of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria (or the antibodies to the bacteria) in the cat’s blood stream. However, a positive blood test only means that the cat has been exposed to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The cats that have been vaccinated against the Lyme disease may also show a false positive.

The vet will perform additional tests to confirm the infection with the Lyme disease.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Cats that are infected with the Lyme disease will typically respond to antibiotic treatment. If the cat doesn’t respond well to antibiotics, he may not be infected with the Lyme disease.

If left untreated, the Lyme disease will become chronic and will affect the kidneys and the liver, causing symptoms such as increased thirst, jaundice and lethargy.

Prevention of Lyme Disease in Cats

There is a Lyme disease vaccination, but may not be recommended, as it may cause a false positive when testing for the disease.

If you live in an area populated by ticks, you should consider keeping your cat indoors or check your pet’s skin frequently, making sure to remove ticks. The ticks may be removed with a pair of tweezers or by using products that kill the ticks before they release the toxins in the cat’s blood stream.

There are a few products such as sprays that may be used as tick repellents.