Cat Scratch Disease | Vetsavers Pet Hospital | Carrolton, TX

What You Need To Know About Cat Scratch Disease

cat rolling over

What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease (CSD) also commonly known as cat scratch fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella Henselae. It is usually a self-limiting disease followed by a scratch from a cat.

What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease (CSD) also commonly known as cat scratch fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella Henselae. It is usually a self-limiting disease followed by a scratch from a cat.

How does a cat contract Cat Scratch Disease?

Cats become infected with Bartonella Henselae by a flea bite or flea dirt (flea poop) getting into an open wound. They can also become infected by cat bites or blood transfusion from an infected cat. Some cats are carriers of the disease, but do not show any illness. Even healthy cats may carry the disease, especially kittens. About 40% of cats carry the disease at some point in their lifetime. Kittens under 1 year old are more likely to have Bartonella Henselae.

What are symptoms of an infected cat?

Most cats that are infected may run fever for a few days and usually recover on their own. Some cats may develop more serious symptoms such as vomiting, appetite
loss, lethargy, red eyes, and swollen lymph nodes.

How does a person get Cat Scratch Disease?

People can get CSD from cat scratches, especially kittens. The bacteria aretransmitted from a cat to a human during a scratch. CSD can also be spread by an
infected cat that licks a person’s open wound.

I have been scratched by my cat, should I be worried?

Most cat scratches do not result in CSD. However, if you have been scratched by a cat, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. In some cases, about 3-14 days after the scratch, a skin infection can occur but it usually self-resolves. Although rare, CSD can cause serious complications to the brain, eyes, heart and internal organs. These complications usually affect young children and people with a compromised immune system. If you develop fever, headache, decreased appetite, enlarged lymph nodes within 1-3 weeks of being scratched, contact your physician.

How do I prevent CSD?

The number one way to prevent CSD is strict flea control recommended by your veterinarian and flea control in the environment (both indoors and outdoors). Keep your cats indoors so they are not subject to becoming infected. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed and avoid playing rough with your cat to help prevent scratches. Always take caution when you see a stray or feral cat. Refrain from picking them up and petting them. Lastly, schedule routine veterinary checkups. It is easy to be scratched by a cat. Cat’s nails are sharp and their movements are often very quick. If you get scratched, don’t panic but do take immediate precautions and be aware of Cat Scratch Disease, and that complications can occur.