Skip to main content

Cat Catches Bubonic Plague

When a cat catches the bubonic plague in the Truckee area of Nevada as reported by the County Health Department last Friday I hope that this time cats generally are not going to be unjustly persecuted.

When the famous bubonic plague (“black death” as it was called because black patches formed on the skin) hit London (from where I write this) in 1665 cats were slaughtered as it was thought they carried the disease. In August of 1665 in London, 31159 people died of the plague and in all 15% of the population of London died because of it.

There were probably a large number of feral cats in those days. There still are, in fact. We are wiser these days (are we?) and now know that it is flea infested rats and rodents that carry the disease. In the modern era, bubonic plague still occurs where rats are present in large numbers or are not successfully controlled.

In the USA where there are 10-15 cases a year (src: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) and these usually occur at some hot spots:

  • Northern New Mexico
  • Northern Arizona and southern Colorado
  • California
  • Southern Oregon
  • Far western Nevada.

Cats are susceptible to harbouring fleas because of their fur. Fleas will jump onto a cat (from the ground) having jumped off an infected rat or rodent. It is our beholden duty to routinely check for fleas on our cats and comb them out. This for me is the preferred way as it is benign and safe. Flea powders I think are dangerous. In fact any sprays (directly onto the coat can cause problems as cats will lick it off and ingest it) are unsafe. This is just my personal view. If the flea infestation is bad a chemical dropper like Frontline is invariably successful but even that should be administered with caution. These chemicals are rather potent so lets think of the cat.

When a cat catches bubonic plague it will usually be the fault of the local health department for failing to control rat populations not the fault of the innocent messenger, the cat, who should have been treated by us. In short it comes down to us again. Nearly all “problems” to do with cats originate with us.

Further reading about flea control:

From Cat Catches Bubonic Plague to Pictures of Cats org


Popular posts from this blog

Cat Ear Mites

Brown gunge. Yes, I know this is a ferret! It does show the build up of dark brown to black ear wax caused by the presence of the cat ear mites in the outer ear canal. This parasite is not restricted to the domestic cat, which makes this photo valid and a useful illustration (I was unable to find a suitable photo of a cat with the condition). Photo Stacy Lynn Baum under a creative commons license. Ear mites (minute crab like creatures) are one of the causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal (scientific term for this inflammation is Otitis externa ). The outer ear canal is the tube that runs from outside to the ear drum (the pathway for the reception of sound), which can be seen when looking at the ear. Otitis externa affects humans and often swimmers as it is called "swimmer's ear" in humans. This YouTube video show ear mites under a microscope. They are not actually in the ear in this video. There are many possible causes of Otitis externa in c

Feline Mange

I'll write about three types of feline mange (a) feline scabies or head mange (b) demodectic mange and (c) sarcoptic mange. The source material is from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the best on the market . Generalised feline mange? Puerto Rico - Photo by Gotham City Lost And Found Feline Scabies - head mange Head mange or feline scabies, is a fairly rare condition in cats, which is caused by the Notoedres mite (head mite) that only reproduces on cats. The female mites burrow a few millimeters (that is a lot) into the skin around the head, and neck to lay eggs, which hatch and lay their own eggs. Their presence and activities causes intense itching that in turn causes the cat to scratch. The scratching will obviously be noticed and it will cause the skin to become red, scratched and worse infected. Symptoms: hair loss and scabs, thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching. Feline mange (head mange) is contagious and tr

Cat Anatomy

Cat Anatomy - Photo by Curious Expeditions . The picture above was taken at Wax Anatomical Models at La Specola in Florence, Italy. The photograph is published under a creative commons license kindly granted by the photographer. I am sorry if it is a bit gruesome. It is pretty well all I could find as an illustration that was licensed for publication. Cat Anatomy is a very wide ranging subject. The anatomy of a cat is very similar to human anatomy. If you were writing a biology book for students of biology you would go through every part of the a cat's anatomy in some detail. It would be similar to writing a book about the human anatomy. It would be a thick book and pretty boring for your average internet surfer. So, how do you limit such a big subject and make this post meaningful? The answer I think lies in doing two things: Having a quick general look at cat anatomy - an overview and; Focusing on the areas of cat anatomy that are particular to the cat and of parti