Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms List

The classic cat scratch fever symptoms begin with a skin lesion at the site of a cat scratch, followed by painful swollen lymph nodes.

Also known as cat scratch disease (CSD), the symptoms are caused by an infection of Bartonella henselae. B. henselae, the bacterium responsible for the disease, can also be contracted through a lick to an open wound, or possibly a bite.

If present, the skin lesion, appearing similar to an insect bite, may appear with three to ten days. The lesion may develop pus or fluid, or remain dry.

Within one to two weeks, the swollen lymph nodes will appear, sometimes with fever. Additional symptoms may include generalized aching, malaise, and loss of appetite.

Cat scratch fever symptoms are typically mild. According to several sources, depending upon which side of the fence you sit on, the disease is either fairly rare, or fairly common. This discrepancy can probably be explained by realizing that many cases may go undiagnosed. 

In the U.S., about 2000 hospital admissions are reported out of the approximately 22,000 cases diagnosed each year. More than 20,000 cases might seem rare, until you compare that to only zero to two cases of the much feared rabies per year.

Affecting primarily people under age 21 (80 to 90 percent of cases), and more males than females, a cat scratch (or less commonly, a bite) is the typical start of the disease (hence the name, cat scratch fever).

About ten percent of cases have also been reported after exposure to non-feline animals, including squirrels, dogs, goats, and crabs. Barbed wire and porcupine quills have also been implicated.

Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms

The following symptoms are typically seen with cat scratch fever.

  • Skin Lesions
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Loss of Appetite, Weight Loss
  • Headache

In recent years, cat scratch disease has been associated with more varied and serious illnesses. Atypical symptoms include those shown below.

The symptom list may be longer and more serious for the immunosuppressed, such as those with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

  • Tonsillitis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Central Nervous System disorders
  • Seizures
  • Combative behavior
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Coma
  • Encephalitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Nerve disorders of the head, face and eyes
  • Transient blindness
  • Hepatitis and liver disorders
  • Pneumonia or pulmonary disease
  • Various skin symptoms and conditions

According to the Centers for Disease Control, "rare complications of B. henselae infection are bacillary angiomatosis and Parinaud's oculolandular syndrome." Cat scratch fever is a self-limiting disease. As such, the symptoms should disappear on their own, usually within two to five months. The skin lesions, however, can last up to two years.

More About this Disease

CSD Symptoms 

Cat Scratch Disease


Cat Health

Cat Lovers Only

Want More Kitties in Your Inbox?

I guarantee 100% privacy.


Like this page

Like us on Facebook


Comments: What do you think?

Have your say about what you just read. Leave me a comment in the box below.

Like us on Facebook

Get the book on Amazon...

Meet Our Featured Kitties

Featured Kitties July, 2015

10 Cutest Kitten Moments with Marmalade and Cole

10 cutest kitten moments with Marmalade and Cole

23 Cats Who Love Boxes. "Bonus Belle" is my favorite. What's Yours? 

The Rescue of Orange and Gary

The rescue of Orange and Gary

Latest Meows

  1. Tropicana: Orange Is A Gift

    Welcome to my home! Even though I'm a naughty kitty, I am affectionate and friendly most of the time. I have big paws which have helped me destroy many

    Read More

  2. Mother cat pooping in tub, sink, just gave birth

    We have a stray cat we took in. She gave birth and started pooping in our bath tub and kitchen sink. She has always used the litter box or was outside!

    Read More

  3. Featured Kitties for July, 2015

    Say meow to the featured kitties for July, 2015. These pictures were all contributed by visitors who want to show off their babies. Enjoy and show them some love!

    Read More

How to Give 7 Maine Coon Kittens an Eye Test

7 Maine Coon kittens

Mama cat adopts orphaned baby bunny

Mama cat adopts baby bunny Bubbles

Which Low Cost Cat Food is the Best?

Which is the best low cost cat food

TJ the Tiger Goes on Vacation

TJ the Tiger at Big Cat Rescue

Morris the Horse Riding cat

Morris the horse riding cat

Cat Welcomes Home Soldier with a Meow and a Hug!

Adorable Orange Kitten Stalks Himself on Video

Orange kitten stalks himself on video

Weatherman Rescues Kitten from Tornado Rubble

Weatherman rescues kitten from tornado rubble

Kevin Richardson Snuggles with Lions

Kevin Richardson snuggles with cubs

Abandoned Puppy + Starving Kitten = ??

Travis puppy and Yoda kitten

Dogs Annoying Cats with Friendship

Dogs annoying cats with friendship

Shhhhh... Do Not Disturb. Adorable Kitten is So Tired!

These Two Flea Infested Kittens Had No Future, Until This Happened

You've Never Seen a Dog Show This Much Love for Foster Kittens. Until Now.

This Great Dane and Kitten Have a Love Story for the Ages. Tissue Alert.