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Is It Possible for Cats to Get Lyme Disease? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

a tick on a white cat's paw

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you are a pet owner, you have likely heard stories about dogs getting Lyme disease. Humans can get it, which can make many people wonder if their cats can get it too. Unfortunately, the short answer is yes. Your cat can get Lyme disease, though it isn’t as common as it is for dogs. Keep reading as we discuss Lyme disease and how your cat can get it.

What Is Lyme Disease?

A spiral-shaped bacterium named Borrelia burgdorfi is the cause of Lyme disease. It travels through the bloodstream to various locations in the body, including the heart, kidneys, and joints, leading to health problems. Ticks transmit the bacteria, and the host can start showing symptoms in as little as 4 weeks after a tick bite.

sick cat
Image Credit: Ro_ksy, Shutterstock

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stiff and sore muscles
  • Stomach swelling
  • Frequent urination
  • Fever
  • Limping
  • Unwillingness to jump

Do Cats Get Lyme Disease?

Unfortunately, cats can get Lyme disease if a tick carrying the bacteria bites them. However, most infections only occur in the laboratory, as the ticks carrying the disease rarely bite cats in the wild, though no one is sure why.

What If My Cats Gets Bitten by a Tick?

If you remove a tick from your cat, we recommend taking your pet to the vet so the doctor can run a blood test looking for the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacterium. The veterinarian will may prescribe an antibiotic, and pets treated immediately have a better chance of recovery than those that receive delayed treatment.

How Can I Protect My Cat From Lyme Disease?

There is no vaccine for Lyme disease, so contracting it is always dangerous. Luckily, ticks don’t seem that interested in cats, but if you live in an area known to contain ticks, a pet-safe insecticide can help drive them off. A flea-and-tick collar can also help keep the pests away. You should always brush your cat when they come in from outside and look them over to remove any bugs. However, the best prevention is to keep your cat indoors, where there is little risk that they will encounter a tick that can spread the disease.

vet listening to scottish cat's heartbeat using stethoscope
Image Credit: smile23, Shutterstock

Can My Cat Get Other Diseases From Ticks?

Unfortunately, besides Lyme disease, your pet can contract several other diseases from ticks, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Haemobartonellosis, Tularemia, Cytauxzoonosis, and Babesiosis. Other insects, like mosquitos and deer flies, can also spread many diseases.


While cats can get Lyme disease, it’s rare because ticks don’t usually attack cats. However, your cat can be in danger if you live in an area with an especially large tick population or if your cat spends time in tall grass. Keeping your pet indoors is the best way to prevent a tick bite, but if they do venture outside, brush and check them over when they return to find and remove any ticks, and put a flea collar on to help keep the pests away. If you notice your pet experiencing difficulty breathing, limping, swollen lymph nodes, or frequent urination, take them to the vet immediately for an examination and to receive the required medications.

Featured Image Credit: Topolszczak, Shutterstock

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