Cat Scratch Disease

Cat scratch disease is also know as Bartonellosis or Bartonella infection. It is a bacterial disease that can infect many different species, including cats and humans. People with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of infection.

Bartonella infection can cause chronic inflammatory conditions in some cats, like inflammation of the mouth (stomatitis), inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and inflammatory bowel disease. Other cats may simply carry the disease and appear to be completely healthy with no signs or symptoms.

What Is Bartonellosis?

Bartonellosis is a disease caused by several bacteria of the Bartonella family. Bartonella organisms can cause bacterial infection in many species, including humans. Certain strains of Bartonella are known to infect cats. Bartonella organisms can be transmitted from a cat to a human via a bite or scratch, so bartonellosis in humans is commonly called cat-scratch disease.

Cats can become infected with Bartonella through exposure to infected fleas. For this reason, cats that roam outdoors are at greater risk for exposure. There is some evidence that ticks may also transmit the disease.

Some reports state that 12% to 50% or more of cats have been infected with Bartonella. The risk of exposure varies greatly depending on the region of the United States. Areas with warmer climates have a higher incidence of fleas and, therefore, a higher percentage of cats infected with Bartonella.

This is why regular application of flea and tick preventives, as recommended by your veterinarian, is so important.

Signs of Bartonellosis

Many cats that have been exposed to Bartonella do not get sick, so they do not show clinical signs of the disease. These cats may, however, still transmit the disease to humans. Clinically affected (sick) cats may have various clinical signs, including chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the eyes, mouth, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal system, and even the heart. More specific clinical signs may include:

  • Uveitis (inflammation of a part of the eye)
  • Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth)
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Chronic upper respiratory disease (sneezing, nasal and eye discharge)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea)
  • Fever

Infected cats may show one or more of the signs listed above. It is very important to discuss these illnesses with your veterinarian because other diseases may also cause these signs.

Symptoms of bartonellosis in humans generally occur about 3 weeks after a cat scratch or bite and include fever and swollen lymph nodes along with a number of other possible symptoms. Consult with your physician regarding any concerns or questions about Bartonella infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian may perform a blood test on your cat to check for Bartonella infection. The test indicates the presence of antibodies, which the body uses to fight specific infections. A positive test result means that your cat has been exposed to Bartonella. If your cat is showing signs of disease and has a positive test result, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics to treat the disease. There is controversy about whether to treat cats that test positive for Bartonella but are not showing signs of illness. It is best to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian.

Prevention

Regular application of flea and tick preventives, as recommended by your veterinarian, will help to prevent Bartonella infection.

 

Kitten

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Peanut Butter Dog Treats

For this recipe, I recommend using cute cookie cutters in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

 

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup peanut butter ( chunky or smooth)

1 cup milk

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375*.

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the peanut butter and milk together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and don’t forget to flour your counter. Cut out your shapes, reforming and rolling the dough as needed to use all of the dough.

Bake for 10-11 minutes and allow to cool completely before storing or giving to your dogs. We don’t want any burned tongues!

 

This is a perfect excuse to turn the oven on during a cold, dreary winter day! You can make some for your pooch or for the dogs of friends. Check with your local shelters to see if they’ll take homemade treats and take a few goodie bags out to them, too!

Keeping Pets Safe in the Winter

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Frostbite Prevention

Remove ice and snow from your pets paws and coat as often as you can while you’re outside and again when you come in. Frostbitten skin may turn reddish, white, or gray and may get scaly or slough off. If you think your pet has frostbite, take her to a warm place immediately. Apply warm (not hot!), moist towels to the affected area (changing frequently) until the area becomes flushed. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible as they will probably want to evaluate the extent of the damage and determine the seriousness of the condition.

Snow/Ice Removal Salt

Some substances used to melt ice and snow have low to moderate toxicity for your pet. Read the labels and take the necessary precautions. Make sure you remove salt from your pet’s paws immediately to prevent ingestion. If possible, buy pet ‘friendly’ salt, but I would still advise removing that from your pet’s feet, as well.

Antifreeze

Even a single lick of antifreeze can be deadly for your pet. ALL antifreeze products on the market are toxic. Thoroughly clean up spills immediately and keep containers closed tightly and away from pets. If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Outdoor Pets

Housing: Make sure your outdoor pet has a warm, insulated shelter. It should be elevated somewhat to prevent moisture accumulation inside. If possible provide a door of some kind, maybe canvas, to keep out winter winds. If your pet is in a pen, you can stretch canvas over the top of it and provide protection from winds using bales of straw. If the wind chill or winds become severe, bring your pet inside!

Cats, in particular, will sometimes climb onto vehicle engines for warmth. Before starting your vehicle, knock on the hood and honk the horn. Even if your own outdoor cat doesn’t do this, a neighbor’s cat might. Better safe than sorry.

Food and Water: Staying warm in the winter requires extra calories, so feed your pet accordingly when the temperatures drop. Talk to your veterinarian for her/his specific advice for your pet and increasing food. Always make sure your pet has access to fresh, clean water. Check it frequently and replace it as it may freeze if it gets cold enough. Water bowls that plug in and keep water from freezing are an excellent investment.

 

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Following these tips will help keep your pets safe and warm during the blustery winter season!