Veterinarians are seeing an increase of cats with the deadly blood parasite known as Bobcat Fever in Arkansas, Oklahoma and other southern states.
The rise in diagnosis comes as contact between bobcats and domestic cats is crowing according to vets.
Bobcat Fever is gaining more attention in our area as the weather gets warmer and cats become more exposed to ticks.
"It is a disease that is passed from the tick when passed from cat to cat," Phil Chitwood, veterinarian at Poteau Valley Veterinarian Hospital said. "It`s transmitted by the tick feeding on the bobcat and then it feeds on the domestic cat. It`s usually fatal in the domestic cat."
Chitwood has seen many cases of Bobcat Fever.
"The symptoms that we see are they usually run a temperature, they`re jaundice, they become depressed and meow quite a bit," Chitwood said.
Three of Sharon Richards' cats have been diagnosed with the disease, leading to her losing one of them. She is part of a non-profit organization called Fabulous Felines NWA, who is helping raise awareness.
"I had never heard of it until I moved here and one of my cats was out playing in the yard and she came walking up the driveway," Richards said. "She had been fine the morning before and she was so lethargic, she couldn`t hardly move."
Richards has spent thousands of dollars on treatment for those cats and is now keeping a close eye to ensure her other cats don't get sick, too.
"It`s a constant worry that the others are going to get it," Richards said. "I keep the collars on them and we put out tick pellets where the cats go so we can really knock it down."
Vets said the faster your cat gets treatment, the better. But, Chitwood said recovery is not usually guaranteed.
"It`s probably going to result in death of that cat," Chitwood said. "There isn`t much that they can do."
Chitwood said after 5NEWS spoke to him for this story on Thursday (May 10), a cat was brought in and diagnosed with Bobcat Fever. The disease was so far along that the cat had to be euthanized immediately.
Vets recommend protecting your cats from outside exposure where ticks can be found and to use a tick preventative product on your pet.