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My Cat Had Lyme Disease

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My Cat Had Lyme Disease

Updated: May 2018 May is Lyme Awareness Month

This is timely guest post from cat blogger, Ellen Pilch at 15andmeowing on a subject most cat owners aren’t concerned about but should be about Lyme disease.

A few years ago, I asked our vet about Lyme disease since we live in a wooded area rampant with deer and varieties of ticks. No matter how careful, I’d find a couple ticks on me every year and routinely test for Lyme at my annual check-up. Naturally concerned about my cats and Lyme, my vet scoffed and said it’s extremely rare and not to worry. The truth is cats can contract Lyme disease making it important to add effective flea and tick protection for indoor/outdoor cats or if you have a dog. Ticks are happy to hitchhike home on a dog or human to your indoor only cat.

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month but perhaps it needs to be changed to include cats.

Spooky the cat with Lyme disease


Yes, you read the title correctly. My Cat, Spooky was diagnosed with Lyme disease last year. It is very rare for a cat to contract Lyme disease even in a state like mine. Ninety-six percent of all Lyme disease cases came from 14 states, my state of Massachusetts is one of them. Lymediseasestats

Spooky was a neighbor’s cat that visited us and another neighbor, daily for years. When his owner announced they were moving, we all feared he would attempt to get back to this area so it was agreed that the other neighbor would keep him. Spooky remained an indoor/outdoor cat and treated with Frontline for fleas and ticks. Spooky used to like to hide in tall grass to hunt for mice. When he would visit us, I was constantly pulling ticks off of him.

In the fall of 2013, Spooky decided to move in with us. By doing that, he became an indoor-only cat. We noticed how stiff he moved and figured he had arthritis because he was about 13 years old at that time. I tried various treats and supplements with glucosamine for him, but they all upset his stomach.

In June of 2015, I brought him in for a wellness exam and a senior blood panel. At that point, it was discovered he had high blood pressure and thyroid disease. I started doing some research and saw that the high blood pressure could be from Lyme disease so I asked about that. A vet said it was not possible for him to have Lyme disease. Fortunately, I don’t always accept an answer as the truth. I kept researching and saw that a cat could get Lyme disease, even though it is rare.

I was at the vet hospital again, I spend a lot of time there with 14 cats, so I asked a different vet that I had more confidence in. She said it was possible, but the test was expensive. The test was Idexx 4DX for $74.15, I didn’t think it was that expensive to get a definite answer. If I had never seen a tick on him or maybe just one, I wouldn’t have persisted, but this poor cat was covered in them all the time. My husband had also had lyme disease three times and years ago, our dog had had it as well. The test showed that Spooky did have Lyme, so the vet prescribed the antibiotic, Amoxicillin for three weeks. My husband and I noticed a remarkable improvement in his walking. He still has arthritis, but he definitely moves much better than before.

If you do allow your cat outdoors, I highly recommend using a topical to keep ticks away. It is also good to visually check your pet for ticks too. And if you do suspect Lyme disease, insist on testing.

SNAP 4Dx Plus Test by Idexx

is the only test that allows you to efficiently test for heartworm disease and tick-transmitted pathogens, as recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

Test annually to help prevent the spread of heartworm disease, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis while increasing awareness of these vector-transmitted infections.SNAP tests provide reference laboratory ELISA technology for superior diagnostic sensitivity and specificity at the point of care.

Editor’s Note: Flea/tick protection for cats and dogs is different. Please use the correct kind, size and dosage according to the manufacturer’s directions. Do NOT use products containing amitraz, permethrin, or organophosphates on cats. Seek the advice of a veterinarian when using topical flea/tick products on elderly, ill or immune compromised cats.

lyme disease cat

This is our list of natural or less chemically based flea/tick products. Our 21-year-old Merlin has only used an amber collar and diatomaceous earth for the past few years with good results. Odin and Domino have had the best results with Advantage but we’d really like to find a gentler option that works.

Let us know in a comment to what products you’ve had good results with.

Check out or for the latest research. Our Vet 101 Flea/Tick Tips


UPDATE: We regret to inform you that Spooky passed away a few days after this post was published. For more details or to leave condolences, visit 15 and Meowing. Spooky is memorialized in our book Black Cats Tell All: True Tales And Inspiring Images

R.I.P. _spooky_cat


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  • Aimable Cats

    In the rural part of the Ozarks where Parker Prettycat was born, it’s not a question of of you will get ticks, but rather how many. One of the guys down the road contracted a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

    When I went to feed and sit with the ferals, I brought tweezers. One time the inside cat got a tick and he scratched my hand as we were taking it off. Parker saw the scratch the next day, and I said “I had to take a tick off the inside cat.” When she heard those words, sh

  • Ellen

    Very good info for sure! I use the same on the inside and the ferals (I have to trap a couple to do it) I use Frontline for fleas, and so far everyone is happy. We also spread diatomaceous earth outside where the cats like to lay. I like that it sterilizes the fleas. I am not thrilled I have to use it on the older fellas as I dont care for chemicals, and might check into amber collars for the inside oldsters.
    Since I feed ferals, opossums are natural tick killers. I encourage their visits. I am not keen on the raccoons but the opossums usually eat earlier and there isnt much left so they move on,
    Great article!

  • Flynn

    This is a great guest post from Ellen. We do get a few ticks here mostly brought on the land by roaming deer. I used to sometimes find ticks on Eric even though both he and Flynn have always been regularly treated for fleas and ticks. I have only ever found one on Flynn.

  • Tamago

    Great article! It certainly raised my awareness! I use diatomaceous earth for flea/tick prevention. Good to know it’s working for Merlin in conbination with amber collar.

  • Skeeter and Izzy

    We are so glad that Ellen persisted in getting Spooky tested. Ticks and fleas are a problem here too. We use Advantage now. We used to use Frontline Plus but it started to be less effective. I think that it helps to periodically change types of treatments.
    Sadly some Vets still believe that cats don’t get certain things.
    Thanks to Ellen for sharing the great information with us.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo & the Angels >^..^^..^<~

  • easy rider

    How sad that Spooky had to bear that disease from that pesky ticks…. We have no ticks in our area, the ticks probably don’t like our wet and muggy weather… I’m grateful for a tick free area, yay for living in a land before time, but without ticks :o)

  • Summer

    This is so important to know! I go out on a leash – while I may be less likely to pick up a tick because of where I live and because my outdoor time is very limited, it’s not impossible.

  • CATachresis

    Poor Spooky. He is fortunate to have had you, Ellen to look out for him. I think Lyme disease is more prevalent than is admitted to by health professionals all over the world. I had undiagnosed Lyme disease many years ago and am still living with the horrible consequences. I also know of three people just in my village here in Wales who have caught Lyme over the last few years, so animals are even more susceptible, especially if they go outside and run through the grass and bushes. The test for Lyme here often/usually results in a false negative and the treatment for humans is woefully inadequate. Austin gets a shot every 6 months that deals with fleas and ticks and I have never seen one on him.

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