Area veterinarians are urging cat owners who live in rural areas to do their best to guard against tick bites.
“Bobcat Fever” is nothing new to Oklahoma, but it is becoming more common. The disease is spread through a specific kind of tick, called “Lone Star” ticks.
The problem comes when a tick burrows into first a bobcat, and then a domestic cat. Bobcats are immune to the effects of the tick bite. However, any domestic cat that is then infected usually dies.
Oklahoma State University Veterinarian Dr. Laura Nafe said the best defense for the disease is prevention.
”We’ve known about it for a long time. I will say this Lone Star Tick that is responsible for transmitting it from the Bobcat to the domestic cat is expanding. I mean we’re seeing more cases,” said Dr. Nafe.
Norman Veterinarian Dr. Laura Denton said she knows of at least five cases in the Norman area since February. She said two of her personal cats have died from “Bobcat Fever” just the past year. She recommended cats who live outdoors in rural areas should wear “Seresto” flea and tick collars.
There is a very expensive cure for “Bobcat Fever,” but both Dr. Denton and Dr. Nafe said that medicine has just a 60-percent success rate, and because of the especially virulent strain of the disease in Oklahoma, the survival rate is actually much worse.
Barbara Tarbutton’s cat “Paw Paws” was killed by “Bobcat Fever” last month.
“He had his treatment. I mean he wasn’t even due to have his next treatment for another ten days, but it still got him,” said Tarbutton.