I love my cat Sylvester very, very much. I love all my pets and would adopt more if I could handle the responsibility and afford it!
Sylvester means a lot to me. After one semester at college I had to take a medical leave, after waking up one morning with bi-lateral Bell’s Palsy, which then turned into temporary paralysis of both legs and arms (and would come and go over the next few months)- and lots of other symptoms. Little did I know that this was the time I should have been treated with IV antibiotics- but doctors assured me, it wasn’t Lyme…
I was 18 when my health started to go downhill- And it took many horrible experiences over the next 6 years, to learn all that I know today- I’ve taken steps forwards and many steps backwards, but in the end, it’s been a hell of a learning experience. I feel like maybe this all happened to me, because I’m strong enough to overcome it- and to help those avoid and prevent tick-borne illness- some who may not have the strength to overcome the obstacles…
Anyway, it was when all this stuff was happening that I found Sylvester and brought him home. I liked that he wouldn’t judge me; he wouldn’t ask me why I was so tired all the time; he wouldn’t ask why I wasn’t in school; he didn’t laugh at the fact it looked like I had a stroke; he got me through a really hard time.
The next year after I regained somewhat of my life back, I was accepted into Syracuse University. When I came home one time from school, to my surprise, I found my him outside! I freaked out– chasing after him, but my parents said that he liked to go outside now. Sylvester had so much energy and wanted to run around. I didn’t like that he went outside, but it was done, and he loved it; I didn’t want to take away something that he loved.
I’ll never forget the first time I found a tick inside the house- it was 3 years ago. Even though i’ve had him for 7 years it only started a few summers ago, and this now happens every summer. The first year was especially hard, since I had just started IV antibiotics and had a midline inserted to FINALLY treat the Lyme disease bacteria that had infiltrated my body over a decade ago. I had found the first tick in my room; for the next week I didn’t step foot in my room. I even went to stay with my boyfriend for a few days (in Martha’s Vineyard- of all places…I know) but couldn’t avoid my house forever.
When I went home, I started to take Sylvester to the vet a few times a week for the next few weeks, where they would show me/help me search him and my dog for ticks, and they also taught me how to apply Frontline on them (so lucky to have a vet that would do that for me!)
Last year, I found 6 ticks. But this year I’ve already found 4 and the “tick season” is far from over. A few days ago, I found a nymph on Sylvester:
Today, I found yet another nymph, making the other one I found huge!
I know that I’ll never have another outdoor cat, but I’m not sure what to do now- I don’t think I can keep up with the constant tick checks. No matter how much you check, they are SO easy to miss! I have my family check him and my dog, but I always recheck them after- and it’s these that I’ve found after taking a closer look.
I’ll have to talk to the vet about other options. We tried making him a cat that stays only inside or only outside but he doesn’t want one or the other. My dog isn’t really too much of a concern because he doesn’t go into bushes and stay out all day- but that doesn’t mean we don’t check him as thoroughly as Sylvester; we also check our other pets, even though they do not go outside, it is possible that Sylvester has brought one in and could attach just as easily to them too.
It makes me sad that I love my pets so much, but ticks have become such a danger to themselves, me, my family, and all my pets. For now we are applying the Frontline every month and check them multiple times a day and have several people check them each time.
I just wish there was an easier way.
Until I figure out what I’m going to do, I’ll continue to share my stories and express the importance of checking your pets for ticks!