Purrfection in Peril: The Feline Battle Against Anaplasmosis

The perils of ticks for pets is something that every pet parent is aware of. Anaplasmosis is a rare but potentially serious tick-borne disease. Delve deeper as we share what are the signs you need to lookout for and how can you prevent this infection in your feline friend!


Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne illness. It’s more common in humans, dogs, and other animals, but cats do contract it in rare instances. Cats get infected by anaplasmosis as a result of being bit by a tick that carries the Anaplasmaphagocytophilum bacterium. As with some other tick-borne diseases, a tick must remain attached to your cat for more than 24 hours for the infection to be transferred.

Eyes on the signs

Cats usually develop symptoms within a few days to a week after the tick bite. Clinical signs may include –

• Poor appetite
• Lethargy
• Fever
• Stiff and painful joints
• Limping or trouble in walking
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Bloody nose
• Dark bloody stool
• Bruising
• Wobbly gait
• Seizures
• Conjunctivitis

Not all cats carrying the Anaplasma will have the clinical signs. Cats that have a strong immune system will get sick for a short period of time and then recover quickly as compared to cats with a weak immune system.

Vouching for vigilance – early detection is the key

Anaplasmosis is transmitted 24 to 48 hours after the tick attaches to the cat. Anaplasmosis is not contagious from cat to cat, but it is common that all cats in the same home will get the disease at once, due to the same tick exposure.

It is important to obtain a full history, including when a tick bite might have occurred, and conduct a complete physical examination followed by blood smear examination. Your vet will conduct a blood sample analysis for your cat to know whether your pet has thrombocytopenia (fewer platelets) or anaemia (fewer blood cells) and these findings will suggest an Anaplasma infection because the organism affects different cells in the blood.

Navigating the path to recovery

Anaplasmosis can be confused with other illnesses that cause fever, lethargy, anaemia, thrombocytopenia, stiff joints, or dark stool. The diagnosis may vary depending on your pet’s medical history, clinical signs, and blood sample analysis.

If your pet has severe anaemia or thrombocytopenia based on the blood test results, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with the treatment protocols to overcome the disease and further prevent it. Follow your vet’s instructions and give all the medications that are prescribed on time and in the right dosage. Most cats make a full recovery from anaplasmosis, but your veterinarian will want to monitor them afterwards to be sure that the infection has cleared.

Make sure to take your beloved pet for follow-up check up two months after the treatment is over. Once your pet has had two to three consecutive negative tests, it is considered that the treatment is successful.

Safeguarding the sanctuary of health and wellbeing

To reduce your pet’s chances of getting anaplasmosis, limit outdoor access, use preventive medications, and conduct daily tick checks. Yearround tick prevention should be part of your pet’s preventive care. It is best to check your pet often if you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, especially after your pet comes in from outdoors. Ticks are typically found near a cat’s neck, head, or ears, and in the creases under their legs.

(Dr.A.Sangaran, M.V.Sc., Ph.D., Professor and Head Department of Veterinary Parasitology Madras Veterinary College, Chennai – 600 007, Dr. Neelakshi Deka – Ph.D. Veterinary Parasitologist working as Veterinary Surgeon in Government of Assam)