Veterinarian warns cat owners about Bobcat Fever

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- A Mid-South woman and veterinarian want to warn cat owners about Bobcat Fever.

The bobcat is the natural host of the infection transmitted by ticks, that infects the blood and tissues of the domestic house cat. It can be extremely deadly, one site saying the survival rate is less than one percent.

One woman in Southaven wants to get the message out about what happened to her cat.

Like many cats, Jelly, chose his owners.

"He was a real wild one. We weren't looking to have a cat two years ago. He just kind of showed up on our doorstep, literally, and would not go away," explained his owner, Roxie Gunn.

Gunn and her family noticed something was off.

"We noticed he was being a little lethargic. He's usually pretty active."

They took him to the vet and his condition became worse and Jelly died.

"It just happened so quick and with no warning. No warning whatsoever," she explained.

Speaking to us from her Southaven home, Gunn told us her neighbor came over shortly after Jelly's death. His cat had the same symptoms.

"They had testing done and they found out it was Bobcat Fever. That's why I contacted ya'll, because I wanted to get this warning out, this message out to everybody."

Dr. Angie Zinkus, one of the medical directors at Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital, showed us some of the affected areas.

"We see it mainly in wooded areas," she explained.

She says symptoms include the cat being lethargic, not eating and just being off.

She says Bobcat Fever is transmitted by the Lone Star Tick and The American Dog Tick but not cat to cat.

"But more so, one tick bites an infected cat and transmits it now the problem with this is the cats won't show signs 12 to 15 days after being infected by it once their infected and they start showing signs you've got about a five day window before they can die," she said.

Treatment can be intense, including IV fluids, blood transfusions. Which is why it's important to be proactive.

"It's important to get a product from your vet, even if it costs a little more, and see what your vet recommends for tick prevention. We live in a hotbed of ticks."

Dr. Zinkus said Bobcat Fever does not affect dogs or humans.