are the symptoms?
cat becomes depressed, withdrawn, relatively motionless, runs a
very high fever (103 -107 F), & refuses to eat. The clinical
description of “hemolytic crisis”, “tissue microphages
with production of schizonts & invasive merozoites” &
other academic jargon, basically means that while the cat burns
with fever, becoming anemic & dehydrated, the disease rages
through the body attacking blood vessels in all organs; heart, lungs,
liver, kidney, spleen. Under such systematic attack the liver &
kidneys quickly overload with damaged blood cells & the body
becomes jaundiced. In the end phase, the cat begins to vocalize
frequently & at greater & greater length, a heart-rending
agonal cry, hemorrhages, & dies.
the disease in my area?
of the Oklahoma State University web pages calls cytauxzoon felis
a “uniformly fatal” parasite affecting domestic felines
in North America, & notes that similar genus infect a variety
of African animals, but this protozoan occurs only in the US, predominately
in the south eastern & south central states.
Cases have been reported in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Illinois (southern),Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas &
Virginia. Actually all of the Southeastern & Midwestern US states
are at risk. Interestingly enough, lab research pathologies show
that the organisms are nearly identical in every region even though
the infected cats are from different regions. Ask your vet about
the predominance of cases in your area.
felis is a protozoan organism
that causes a disease
in cats called feline
cytauxzoonosis ,or “bobcat
it affect only cats?
Yes. Wild felis domesticus
can be infected as well;
it doesn’t just
target pets. There has
been one documented of
infection in a captive-reared
female white tiger (Garner,
M.M. Lung, N.P, Homer,
B.L. Veterinary Pathology,
Jan 01, 1996.) The cat
is what is known as a
when the protozoan kills
the cat, it dies, too.
quickly does it
appear within 7-10
days of infection,
i.e. the tick bite.
It is rapidly fatal;
death usually occurs
within 3 - 6 days
from the first symptoms
is it diagnosed?
only way to definitively
is to take your cat to
the vet. The vet will
take blood samples, which
can then be screened for
the presence of the organism.
The cytauxzoon pattern
is easily distinguished
from other organisms.
There is an early interim
phase where the clinical
symptoms are present but
the pattern does not show
is it transmitted?
disease is passed from bobcats
to domestic cats by ticks, specifically
dermacentor variabilis, the
American Dog tick. The bobcat
is an asymptomatic carrier;
it is not affected by the disease.
Ticks bite bobcats, pick up
the cytaux protozoa while feeding,
fall off, then feed on other
animals. Hard-bodied ticks in
general are classified as 1-,
2-, or 3-host ticks, depending
on how many hosts the tick feeds
on during its development. The
American Dog tick is classified
as a 3-host tick, which increases
the potential for disease transmission
due to the higher number of
animals exposed. They eventually
lay eggs and pass on the protozoan
to their offspring, which may
number in the thousands. After
they hatch, the larvae crawl
up a blade of grass or other
object & wait for a suitable
warm-blooded host to stroll
by. It is looking for any warm-blooded
host, but if what strolls by
a cytauxzoon-carrying tick is
felis domesticus, the common
housecat, & the tick bites
the cat & feeds for long
enough to transmit the disease,
the cat is in serious trouble.