Cytauxzoon felis, a one-celled parasite spread by ticks, causes the disease Cytauxzoonosis in cats. Relatively new to the veterinary world, C. felis was first recognized as a pathogen in 1976.
Since then, it has been reported throughout the Southeast and into the Midwest United States.
Cytauxzoonosis cannot be cured and is often fatal. Therefore, tick prevention is extremely important (and, thankfully, extremely easy). First, keep your cat indoors whenever possible, especially during tick season. Secondly, use a cat-specific monthly tick (and flea) preventive. On-the-skin topicals such as and Bio Spot® SPOT ON® for Cats, offer powerful, easy-to-apply protection against dangerous pests. Cytauxzoonosis is spread in the wild by bobcats, the natural host of C. felis. Domestic cats are thought to be accidental hosts.
Cats bitten by a C. felis-infected tick become extremely ill within 1-3 weeks. Because C. felis affects many organ systems - blood, the liver, lungs, the spleen, and lymph nodes - symptoms of Cytauxzoonosis include sudden listlessness, loss of appetite, anemia, difficulty breathing, high fever, and jaundice. Even with proper veterinary diagnosis and treatment, recovery from Cytauxzoonosis is rare.
Until recently, no treatment for Cytauxzoonosis has proven consistently effective. Certain antibiotics and anti-protozoal drugs continue to show promise. Intravenous fluids and other supportive care are also necessary. Because cats who recover from Cytauxzoonosis may still carry the parasite and suffer recurrence, prevention is essential.
By regularly applying a monthly flea and tick preventive and remaining vigilant about indoor confinement, you'll virtually eliminate your cat's risk of contracting Cytauxzoonosis.