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Monday, May 23, 2011

Bobcat Fever in cats

We have lost two cats to Bobcat fever so we started doing all the research we could about this disease.  Even though we prefer all natural solutions, we hadn’t found a way to keep ticks off of our animals.  We tried several natural remedies but they didn’t work well or were too expensive to keep up with since we have so many animals.  We tried apple cider vinegar in their water, but some refuse to drink it.  Being in Missouri with lots of ticks and in an area known to have Bobcat fever, we reluctantly used topical drops while we kept researching. 

We found out that Frontline drops do not repel ticks.  They kill ticks after 48 hours and we were still pulling several ticks off of our cats a week.  Bobcat fever, according to Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University (which have both been researching the disease), can be transmitted from a tick bite within 2-10 hours.  So using topical flea and tick drops to prevent this disease will not necessarily work. 

I’ve also read about a woman who had her cat on Frontline and kept the cat indoors in a major city (Kansas City), and somehow the cat still contracted the disease.  So just keeping your cat indoors isn’t a guarantee that your cat will not get this disease if it’s in the area.

Bobcat fever, is a horrible disease that kills very quickly.  From the website www.projecthelios.org

“The cat becomes depressed, withdrawn, relatively motionless, runs a very high fever (103 -107 F), & refuses to eat.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.”

After realizing that even the expensive drops weren’t protecting our animals, we really worked as hard as we could to find a solution.  This is what we’ve been doing the last few months and so far it’s working better than Frontline.

The first thing we did was get chickens and they at least keep the ticks out of the immediate area.  But our cats travel far and they go much further than the chickens. 

At the door we keep a spray bottle filled with half Braggs unfiltered Apple cider vinegar and half water.  Also at the door we keep a mason jar of Diatomacious earth.  Every day before they go outside, they are treated with one of those.  It may sound like it takes too much time, but it literally only takes seconds.

I put about 8 shots of the spray in my hand and rub the vinegar water down the cat’s back, wipe very carefully around their ears and near their eyes, under their chin, the belly and arm pits and most importantly on their hind end. Then I do a few more shots in my hand and wipe again. Most of the ticks we were finding were in the short, thinner hairs between their ears and eyes, on their rear end and in their arm pits.  Wiping them down by hand only takes a few seconds and it’s better than outright spraying them, which they hate.  They still aren’t too thrilled with the wipe down – but they are getting used to it. 

Then at least twice a week, we apply the diatomaceous earth (D.E.).  To keep a cloud of dust out of their lungs, I straddle over them and take out a pinch at a time and rub it in.  Focusing on the same areas as I did with the spray.  This also doesn’t take any time at all.  It helps if you keep the D.E. jar full so you can easily grab a pinch with one hand and have the other hand free to hold the cat. 

Every night, we check them thoroughly for any ticks.  When I decided to use a bottle of cheap filtered apple cider vinegar that someone accidentally bought for me, we found a lot of ticks.  As soon as I switched back to the “good stuff”, the tick count dropped again.  When we pet them, we are doing a “love check” and check all the areas they typically get ticks.  If we see them outside we rub them in those areas, we take any opportunity we can to check them. 

The cats are getting used to being “man handled” everyday and are being much more cooperative.  I did a lot of reading about what other people have done to deal with Bobcat fever when it strikes.  I thought I’d share what I found.  If we see the symptoms in our cats again, this is the protocol we’ll use. 

When we lost our first cat to Bobcat fever, we learned what signs to look for.  At first the cat was just a little lazy and didn’t want to eat, which wasn’t like him.  The next day it was obvious something was really wrong.  We took him to the vet and found out some of the signs to look for. These may be signs for other diseases, but in this area where Bobcat fever is known, if we see these signs in one of our cats again,  we’re going to assume the worst and treat for Bobcat fever immediately.

Pull the eye lids back slightly until you can see the white of the their eyes, look for the eye to be bloodshot.  You will be able to see the blood vessels on the underside of the eyelids, so make sure you are looking at the eyeball. They will be lethargic and not want to eat.  Feel the ear for a fever.  We don’t have a thermometer to check for a fever, but it’s pretty obvious when you hold the inside of their ear if they have one.

I found several people online that have successfully treated this disease.  We started the protocol when the second cat got sick and she started to get well by the next day.  Technically it was my mother in law’s cat and she wanted to take her to the vet, so we did.  By the time we got there, Gracie was feeling so much better, she fought the vet so hard they couldn’t get her temperature.  They wanted to keep her there and run tests.  So we left her there.  I hate to say it, but when we picked her up about 6 hours later, she couldn’t stand or hold up her head and was dead about an hour after we got home.  Never again!  Next time we’ll start the protocol and not give up on it. I should have stayed at the vets office with her to continue the treatment. 

The most common successful treatment is using high doses of Monolaurin, an easy to obtain coconut derivative, which we now keep on hand at all times. It’s an anti-viral supplement that works directly on the virus by disrupting the conformation of the lipid bilayer, preventing adsorption to host cells.  The supplement comes in capsules and 300 mg is added to 4 CCs of cat’s “Just born” milk replacement and/ or water and given every 1 – 2 hours for the first day and night.  Some continue this for 3 days or until the cat is fighting horribly and obviously better.

I have read many cases that have successfully been treated using this method, some in conjunction with herbs mentioned below.  The treatment regimens are slightly different from case to case and some have dropped the dosage to every 2-4 hours by the 2nd or 3rd day as improvement is seen.

Some also give an herbal anti-parasitic twice daily (made with 5 drops black walnut shell, 3 drops wormwood, 2 drops cloves -- all tinctures). Or some have used "Cat's Claw" glycerin extract along with the hourly doses of Monolaurin and a blend called Recovazon for nutritional support. Cat's claw inhibits TNFalpha production and scavenges free radicals: a role in cytoprotection.  Herbal extracts can be obtained in vegetable glycerine form so it’s safe for animals.  Next time, we will work with Cat’s claw and Monolaurin and alternating with the “just born” cat’s milk and water.

If necessary, we'll make a trip to the vet for IV fluids and antibiotics such as Doxycycline or Baytril while continuing the natural treatment.   After the cat recovers, most put them on a vitamin-mineral cat supplement, such as Pet-tinic, to build up their blood. 

Dr. Ashley Allen at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital has successfully treated this disease in a different way.  First she used diuretics to rid the cat of fluid in their lungs and administered oxygen for two days. The cat became anemic and experienced severe gastrointestinal bleeding that resulted in two blood transfusions during his weeklong hospital stay.  The cat had a low white cell count, probably due to infection.  Treatment with antiprotozoal drugs, antibiotics and nutrition administered through a feeding tube continued until the cat improved. The protocol UF veterinarians used to treat the animal were reported at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s annual meeting during a presentation.

I’ve also read of other vets whose treatment consists of IV fluids and antibiotics for secondary infections, as well as a blood thinner for DIC ("Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation"), a complication of the disease.

If anyone has come up with a better method of keeping the ticks off of cats, please share.

Since this month has been horrible for ticks, I wanted to pass this information along.  I usually make a dusting sock with sulfur powder and baby powder to keep the chiggers off of me, but I’ve replaced the baby powder with D.E. and hope this dusting powder will help keep the ticks off of us as well.  I put this powder in an old sock and pat on my ankles and underwear line, then dress and dust my socks and clothes, then dust my shoes as well.  I’ll let you know if this works for us.

I’ll be doing a house update soon, but in a nutshell, we’re still working on it ;-)


Heather said...

Blessings on you! Thank you for sharing this info. I'm so sorry for your losses. Thank you for helping to prevent them for other people. <3

Jamie said...

Thank you so much Heather <3

Juli said...


I remember when one was lost but I didn;t know about the second. I'm very sorry.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this!

forever growing said...

I just found out that Frontline at 43.00 a box is a joke. The fleas have to bite the animal in order to die and it does not repel ticks. In the mean time they are carried into the house, beds etc. So because we had a bad infestation of sand fleas and ants and refusing to use chemicals, I got 50 chickens and the problem was gone in about three weeks.
But we have just moved and was talking to the local vet about Frontline and that is how I found out. Advantix Plus repels everything instantly, and to go back to the daily doses of garlic. It builds in the system and is a great deterrent. I did all of the natural stuff to weekly baths for the cats and dogs and there honestly is nothing, so to save there health and your sanity maybe this is a new approach for you. Also you must have had chickens before right, make sure predators stay away, other wise the cats become the new target. I had a very slick mean fishercat that I finally outsmarted!

Jamie said...

Thanks for your comments Forever. Here in the last few weeks, we've really focused on sulfur powder mixed with D.E. for the cats and dogs. I put it on them about every 2-3 days now. That has really kept the fleas off finally! We didn't have fleas for the longest time, the a stray arrived. Now we have fleas. Then on the days we don't apply that, I use the Apple cider vinegar and water spray. So our pest situation is under control.

We have chickens too, but their radius is much smaller than the cat's radius. So nice to meet you.