Few of us hesitate to allow our cats to sleep in our beds with us. If all that stands between happiness and our kitties is a leap onto the mattress, why would we say no?
A 51-year-old woman who has been suffering from Lyme Disease for years has a warning for those of us who snuggle up with our cats at bedtime. Lisa Vallo’s symptoms began almost a decade before she was diagnosed three years ago.
Sadly, she believes her love for her cat may have contributed to the issue.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by the blacklegged deer tick – the same kind of tick that will sometimes attach themselves to feed on our cats. These ticks aren’t picky, they’re happy to feast on pets or humans. Those of us with pets risk extra exposure, especially if we have furry friends we allow outdoors.
You may never notice the presence of a tiny tick on your body, but the signs will become evident within 3 to 30 days. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a bright red rash that can look like an oval or a bullseye. Without treatment, the disease can move to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing pain, arthritis, facial palsy, and other serious issues.
Lisa recalls waking up one morning and finding a tick on her body. The night before she had allowed her cat to sleep in her bed. She told SWNS:
“I woke up in the morning and noticed a black dot on my tummy. I thought it was some dust or fluff and tried to scratch it off but I couldn’t. I went into the bathroom and managed to pick the dot off with my nail and noticed it had legs and was wriggling.”
Lisa saw several doctors over the years, and was misdiagnosed by all of them until recently. Though lab testing can confirm a diagnosis, Lyme disease can be missed when diagnosed based only on the symptoms. Once confirmed, Lyme disease can be successfully treated in only a few weeks with antibiotics – which makes it all the more unfortunate that Lisa has been suffering for years.
“There isn’t enough expertise or publicity about Lyme disease and that’s why I’m speaking about it. Thousands and thousands of people suffer from the disease and don’t know about it, just like I don’t.”
Lisa believes she was bitten by a tick because she shared a bed with her cat, but even if you don’t allow your cat on your bed there is still a risk. To help both you and your cat avoid ticks, make sure your cat is on a flea preventative that includes ticks, even if your cat stays indoors.
Check these common areas regularly on your cat: 6 Places You Might Find Ticks On Your Cat, and don’t be afraid to speak up to your doctor if you experience the symptoms above and think you may have Lyme disease. See the full list of symptoms for all stages of Lyme disease at cdc.gov.