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Deciphering the Rarity of Lyme Disease in Cats

As a pet owner, you might wonder why cats, unlike dogs and humans, rarely seem to contract Lyme disease. This tick-borne illness, caused by the bacterium *Borrelia burgdorferi*, can be a serious concern for many animals, but cats are notably less affected. Understanding the reasons behind this can help you better care for your feline friend and appreciate their unique biology and behaviors.


  • Cats’ natural grooming behaviors make them less susceptible to Lyme disease. They spend much of their time grooming, which helps remove ticks and other parasites before they can transmit the Lyme disease bacterium.

  • Cats, particularly indoor ones, have limited exposure to environments infested with ticks compared to dogs. Dogs often roam in areas like tall grasses and wooded regions where ticks are prevalent, whereas cats typically stay closer to home, reducing their risk of tick bites.

  • The feline immune system may play a role in their lower incidence of Lyme disease. Studies suggest cats respond differently to Borrelia burgdorferi compared to dogs and humans, potentially helping them fight off the bacterium more effectively and preventing the disease from taking hold.

  • Ticks have preferences for certain hosts, and some species are more likely to bite dogs and humans than cats. While cats can still be bitten by ticks, those most efficient at transmitting Lyme disease may not favor cats as hosts, lowering the likelihood of transmission.

  • Lyme disease symptoms often go unnoticed in cats even when they are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. Cats frequently show no symptoms, leading to the disease being less frequently detected and reported compared to dogs or humans. This does not mean cats are immune but rather that they may handle the infection differently.


Prevention is Still Key – While the risk of Lyme disease in cats is low, prevention is still important, especially for outdoor cats. Here are some tips to keep your cat safe:

1. Tick Prevention Products: Use veterinarian-recommended tick prevention treatments designed for cats. These can include topical treatments, collars, or oral medications.

2. Regular Grooming Checks: Regularly check your cat for ticks, particularly after they’ve been outside. Focus on areas like the neck, ears, and between the toes where ticks may hide.

3. Environmental Management: Maintain a tick-free yard by keeping grass short and removing leaf litter where ticks thrive. Creating a tick-safe zone can significantly reduce the risk of tick bites.

4. Stay Informed: Keep up with regular veterinary check-ups and stay informed about tick prevalence in your area. Your veterinarian can provide the best advice tailored to your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors.

Cats’ unique behaviors, biology, and lower exposure to tick habitats contribute to the uncommon occurrence of Lyme disease in felines. Their grooming habits, immune response, and the preferences of ticks themselves all play a role in protecting cats from this tick-borne illness. However, vigilance and preventive measures are still essential to ensure your cat’s health and safety. If you have any concerns or need guidance on tick prevention, don’t hesitate to contact us.