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Cytauxzoonosis: A Deadly Disease

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and I've joined here because I want to tell everyone about this disease. I've found it very difficult to find much information about it, but unfortunately I've received a first hand education on the horrors of this disease.

Last summer, a stray cat showed up around our apartment. He just appeared and adopted my wife and I. We brought him in gave him some food and a place to sleep. He was an orange tabby, very very affectionate, and very vocal. (He would carry on a "conversation" with you and sometimes even with himself.) He was the most adorable cat I've ever known. (I've never been a cat person until this little guy showed up.) We named him Piper and fell in love with him right away.

Piper was definitely a hunter, though. He would sit at the door at about 10 o'clock at night and demand to be let out for a night of hunting in the woods behind our apartment. He would sometimes even bring us a mouse to share with us. I suppose he was greatful for us giving him a home and wanted to earn his keep. He did so very well.

About a week and a half ago, though, Piper began to get sick. He threw up several times one morning. We thought that maybe he'd eaten something that didn't agree with him. We called the vet and they said to put him on a bland diet: boiled chicken, cottage cheese, etc. Do that over the weekend and he should feel better.

By Saturday morning, he had thrown up a couple more times and he was acting a little lethargic. We took him straight to the vet. They checked him out, ran some bloodwork and said that everything seemed okay. Just keep him in a quiet place and give him the bland diet and he should be fine by the end of the weekend.

We took Piper home, hand fed him some boiled chicken (that's the only way he'd eat) and tried some scrambled eggs. He ate those, but I think it was only for us because he didn't seem to like them much... Little did we know then that this would be Piper's last meal. He then went under the bed and crouched down on his belly, where he stayed all day Saturday and all day Sunday. We were very concerned because it just wasn't like him. He was always very active, energetic, affectionate, and most of all: hungry. He didn't eat anything all afternoon Saturday or Sunday.

First thing Monday morning, we took him straight back to the animal hospital. The doctor called me and said that he was afraid it was Cytaux. Piper had a fever of 105 and was slightly anemic. They did bloodwork and sent it to the lab for testing to see if that's what it really was. They said that if the work didn't come back by the next morning, they'd go ahead and begin treating him for Cytaux to be on the safe side. In the meantime, they gave him fluids and antibiotics to try and help him being recovery. The doctor warned me, though, that very few cats survive Cytaux.

Cytaux is actually a disease that comes from adolescent dog-ticks that bite cats. The disease is mainly seen in bobcats, but it does affect house cats who may be outdoors at all. My wife and I had tried keep the tick medicine on Piper, but unfortunately we weren't as diligent as we should have been, not realizing how dangerous ticks can be for cats. This disease (actually a parasite) infects their red blood cells. It gets inside their cells and causes them to have a high fever, extreme lethargy, weakness, stiff muscles, and other symptoms.

The doctors treated Piper for Cytaux the next morning after finding out that the lab results take two or three days to return. This was on Tuesday morning. They continued giving him antibiotics and fluids and watching after him. Wednesday I went to see him on my lunch break. He seemed very disoriented and weak, not at all himself. He also seemed to have a difficult time seeing, so I held him and talked to him so he would know it was me. He was a bit restless, but finally settled down on my lap where I petted him for about half an hour.

As I was leaving, I spoke with the doctor and nurses who said that Piper seemed a little perkier today and seemed to think that he would recover. I went back to work, feeling a little more hopefully, but still terribly worried and hurt that Piper was suffering.

On my way home that evening, the doctor called and said that Piper's fever had dropped a couple of degrees. He said that it could be good, but it could be very bad. If his temperature dropped too much, we could lose him very fast. If it would stabilize where it was, we could probably get Piper to eat (he hadn't since Saturday) and he might make it. The vet said that he was more congested, having a hard time breathing, and he was jaundiced, showing yellow around his eyes, mouth, and gums.

An hour later the doctor called me to tell me that we had lost Piper. I was in shock. He had gotten very congested, despite some medicine the doctor had given him to clear it up, very jaundiced, and then gone into respiratory arrest.

Almost a week later, I'm still in shock. I miss "my little boy" as I used to call him. I miss him waiting at the door for me, ready to play, when I got home. I miss him crawling up on my chest and laying down for a nap with me in the afternoons. I miss him playing with his mouse and watching TV with me. I miss everything about him. I've cried many tears since then and will probably cry many more. Our apartment seems so empty now that he's not there and it will take a long time to get used to him being gone. It's one of the most difficult things I've ever dealt with.

I'm writing this because I don't want anyone to have to deal with the ordeal my wife and I have been through. It's heartbreaking and very very painful. He was a part of our little family. Not to mention, it's very expensive to have to have a cat treated for this.

Please do yourself and most of all your cats a favor and be very diligent about protecting them from ticks and fleas. DO NOT USE HARTZ! (It will hurt them more than help them.) Use Frontline to protect them. (This is not a sale pitch, I'm not affilaited with them. Hartz made Piper very very sick when we used it, not knowing the dangers of it. That's another story, though.)

All I have left of Piper are his ashes, lots of photos (will post when I can), and so many wonderful memories of him. He was the perfect cat. Unfortunately, I was not the "daddy" I should have been, and it hurts very very much now.

Protect your cats and never, ever, ever take them for granted!
post #2 of 21
I am so sorry about Piper. I keep my guys indoors. But they have never been out so they don't know about the great outdoors. I know you miss Piper. I am glad you have such special memories of him. I will be more diligent in putting the Advantage on my crew and I will think of Piper when I do it. Becky
post #3 of 21
David, thank you for sharing your painful story. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you. How could you have known that Piper was in any way at risk for this horrible disease. Piper knows how much you love him as he watches over you now from over the Bridge. I will remember your sweet little boy as I share this information with other cat lovers such as us. Thank you so much for sharing.
post #4 of 21
Thank you for sharing the information. I'm so sorry about Piper. My husband and I had a little guy for 18 years, and it was awful when he was no longer with us. I hope you'll be able to give another homeless kitty a home when the time is right.

I think it's great for all cat lovers to be well-informed, which is what i really love about this website. Luckily, my new adopted cat (they think she's 9 years old) does go into our enclosed courtyard, but living in Texas fleas are bad, so i do give her frontline, and after reading your e-mail, will make sure it's every 4 weeks. Thanks again for sharing about Piper, and again, so sorry for your incredible loss.
post #5 of 21
Thats so sad and i'm so sorry for both of you and little Piper.

My two girls are indoor cats but if ever Rosie went into the cattery i always gave her Frontline just incase.

Please post your pics of Piper a.s.a.p we'd love to see the little boy who brought you both happiness
post #6 of 21
Thank you for sharing your story, it must have been so hard for you to do, but amazing that you are willing to go through it so that other people don't suffer the same way, I commend you. I am so sorry for the loss of Piper. My heart goes out to you and your wife

RIP sweet Piper

As far as the Hartz, I had a big scare with that as well. I heard somewhere that they are beginning to change their formula, but I still would not feel comfortable with it and would never reccommend it to anyone.
post #7 of 21
I am so, so sad to hear about Piper and my heart goes out to you and your wife. He sounds like he was one incredible boy, and you are to be commended for giving him a home! Thanks for sharing the information about the disease, because like the others I had no idea it existed. It's awful to find out the hard way, isn't it? (I just lost my Domino to a disease I didn't know existed in cats).

My Socrates started life as a stray kitten, but that's the extent of his outdoor life. Now he's afraid to get near an open door and is content to sit at a window and watch the birds and squirrels from behind the glass or screen.

Rest assured Piper knows how much you loved him and how you tried to save him. Now he's playing outdoors once again, as he waits for you at Rainbow Bridge where there are no more diseases or hurts.

Take care.
post #8 of 21

The old-timers here will repeatedly warn members about NOT using over the counter anything on their cats, unless the vets have told them to, and then to follow the vets directions explicitly. We have had members in the past who have lost their cats and kittens to this disease, and you are right, not very much is written about it because it doesn't happen as often as other diseases/illnesses do.

I am so sorry that Piper was infected with this. I hope in time that you will be able to move past the pain and perhaps adopt another cat worthy of all that love you have in your heart for him.
post #9 of 21
I am really sorry to hear about your loss. THank you for sharing this with all of us. I really appreciate it, adn you may have helped to save another cats life by posting this.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts. I had Piper cremated and got him back from the vet yesterday. We just moved into a new house and I had been looking forward to having Piper with us to explore and have plenty of room to play and places to nap and mice to catch.

We are planning on adopting two kitties (we're looking for very young siblings) from our local No-Kill Animal Shelter very soon. But, no cat can ever replace Piper.

The doctor did get the lab results back and said that it was positive for Cytaux. He said that it's very rare. He's seen three or four cases per year for the past 8 or 9 years and only a few have survived. He really thought that Piper would be able to beat it because Piper was a very healthy cat. (He had an extremely healthy appetite... reminded me of Garfield. Especially as much as he liked spaghetti. )

I'm glad that those here can benefit from my post. This is such an awful thing to go through. Many times, they don't even know that it's Cytaux until it's too late. The lab results take 3 or 4 days to come back. (They started treating Piper before the lab results came back. If only they had been 12 hours earlier, he might have survived.)

Thanks again for all your kind thoughts.
post #11 of 21
It must have still been an ordeal having to cremate Piper , but yes your post has been of benefit for us.

Through coming onto the site i've been educated in so many ways with advice from members and experiences such as yours.

Good luck with finding the new fur babies and let us know what babies catch your eyes!
post #12 of 21
Oh god, it's just a day for tears, isn't it? David, I know how difficult it must have been to sit down and write Piper's story. I'm so glad you did. This story WILL help others!

Your heart must be breaking, and it is so clear how much you and your wife loved Piper. I am sure he knows how much you loved him.

post #13 of 21
Oh goodness. My eyes are filling with tears. Like you and your wife, I had never dreamed that ticks were very serious, and My kitty had no protection at all. I didnt realize he was sick until Wednesday, and by Friday he was gone. It was so horrible, and I completely know how it feels. I sent out a bulletin to everyone on Myspace.com to help raise the awareness, and I just pray that soon there will be a vaccine.
post #14 of 21
So sorry about that, I know how it feel because my cat have been there(diabetic). the only different is my cat is still with me.

Good luck with you new cats.
post #15 of 21
Thank you for sharing, and I hope you can get over this terrible time and one day feel ready to share the love you have with other felines. Ticks can carry several nasty and fatal diseases. My cats are all Frontlined regularly - I did find a tick on Dushka once but it was already dead.
post #16 of 21
I'm soo sorry you lost Piper. He must have been a wonderful little guy

Thank you for the info, I had never even heard of the disease before. I'm very sorry you had to deal with it.

RIP Piper
post #17 of 21
I am so sorry you lost Piper - he sounded like the most amazing little guy Losing a beloved friend is always so hard and I think we've all been there at some point.

Thank you for sharing your story with us - it has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that my girls are protected (we use Frontline)

Your new kittens (when you get them) will never replace Piper but they will help you with your grieving process. Don't forget to post pictures of Piper and your new kits when you get them
post #18 of 21
Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story. Piper sounds like he was an awesome cat that you loved very deeply and I am sure he felt the same way about you.

As someone who lost our own Tucker (orange tabby) only a month ago, due to an illness I had no knowledge about (hepatic Lipidosis), I totally understand the shock and pain and wanting to get the message out. If only one cat is saved, it is so worth it.

Thank you for letting us know what to look out for and how to protect our beloved furry friends.
post #19 of 21
So sorry to hear about Piper. Thank you for sharing, I hope that people take notice of it, and then his death wont have been in vain. I am glad that you are going to open your heart and home to some more needy kits. RIP Piper.
post #20 of 21
I am so glad you decided to begin using prevention for external parasites on
your kitty; however, I was reading along and HAD to register so I could let you know that the product you are using does NOT defer ticks! Advantage is a flea control only. If you want tick coverage, that I know of, the only safe products for kitties is frontline plus for cats, and possibly revolution. Check with your veterinarian to see which product he/she suggests. I just wanted to be sure your kitty has the protection you so very mean to give Hope I was able to help!
post #21 of 21
Just to say I have another post in which I explain that though my cats are Frontlined regularly I have found three ticks on them in the last few weeks. We are having a plague of them this year. But Frontline doesn't always kill them so it is important to check daily and groom, and remove them by hand if necessary.
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