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Cat Scratch Fever in Cats

5 min read



In humans the wound site is cleansed thoroughly and patients are advised to temporarily avoid contact with young cats. In cases with swollen or painful lymph nodes, the lymph nodes can be aspirated to remove excess pus. Bed rest is suggested to prevent further aggravation of symptoms, and in severe cases antimicrobial therapy may be advised. Most cases resolve within a few weeks, and in some cases, minor symptoms may linger for a few months. In general, cats do not require therapy.


Living and Management


Immunocompromised patients (e.g. people with AIDS, patients undergoing chemotherapy) are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms of cat scratch fever. In such cases, it is suggested that these cat owners have their cats tested for the presence of the bacteria. For those who are immunocompromised, and are in the process of getting a cat, it is suggested that the cat be tested before it is brought into the home, and that is is confirmed that the cat is from a flea free environment.


The exact risk of transmission of this disease from cats to humans is unknown; however, if you have been scratched or bitten by a cat, immediately clean the abrasion. If symptoms appear, such as fatigue, headache, swollen glands, contact your physician for proper advice.


The overall prognosis for this disease in cats is highly variable depending on the clinical presentation of this disease. You should monitor your cat for recurrence of clinical signs during treatment and call your veterinarian if you see any untoward symptoms in your cat, such as swollen glands or fever.


Please note that this disease is not yet fully described and understood in cats, so resolution of the presence of Bartonella henselae may not be achieved in your cat, even after multiple treatments. The best treatment is preventative.




Suggested prevention techniques include keeping your home and cat free of fleas and ticks, keeping your cat's nails trimmed, and avoiding rough play with kittens and cats. There is no vaccine to prevent cat scratch fever from infecting your cat, but with careful preventative measures and effective flea control, there is an excellent chance that you will not need to suffer the consequences of this bug. 

Image: Tom Wang via Shutterstock