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Cat Scratch Disease

August 11, 2022

Cat Scratch Disease

Last updated: August 02, 2016

Cat Scratch Disease, sometimes referred to as Cat Scratch Fever or Bartonellosis, is caused by an infection with a bacteria called Bartonella henselae. In most cases, both cats and people infected with the disease recovery quickly.


It is believed that cats generally become infected with this disease through flea feces containing the Bartonella bacteria. After fleas leave feces on a cat, the cat likely grooms itself and ingests the feces containing the bacteria. B. henselae can also be transmitted from infected to naïve cats or kittens through fleas and through direct contact.

Cat Scratch Disease is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be spread from an animal to a human. People often develop this disease after being scratched or bitten by an infected cat with bacteria on their teeth or claws. The disease more commonly affects children than adults.


Most cats do not show any signs of the disease, so there is a good chance that the disease will go unnoticed in a cat. If cats show any symptoms, these might include lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, swollen glands, and muscle aches.

Symptoms of the disease in humans usually start with swelling or a small abscess at the site of infection. Another typical symptom is swelling of the lymph nodes nearest to the scratch or bite. A person may also develop flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite. People with a suppressed immune system may suffer further complications, such as heart, eye, brain, intestinal, and skin problems.


Most cats never require treatment for Cat Scratch Disease. Similarly, many humans don’t usually need medical treatment either, although some might need antibiotics. A doctor may drain lymph nodes if they are painful.


Because fleas spread this disease to cats, the best prevention is flea control. You can also learn to play safely with your cat to reduce the chances of being bitten or scratched. It is also suggested that people do not play with stray cats. If you are bitten or scratched by a cat, you should immediately wash the area with soap and water.

Someone with a suppressed immune system should have their cat tested for the presence of bacteria. If someone with a suppressed immune system is thinking about buying a cat, they should have the cat tested and ensure that the cat is from a flea-free environment.

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-The Revival Education Team

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.