Cornell Feline Health Center

Supporting Cat Health with Information and Health Studies.

Project: Feline Tick / Lyme Disease Surveillance Program

Investigator: Dr. Dwight Bowman

What we need: Ticks removed from cats

Ticks carry an alarming variety of different viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause disease in cats and people. Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted by certain species of deer ticks and is increasing in prevalence in animals and humans in many parts of the U.S. It is unclear whether cats are susceptible to Lyme disease under natural circumstances, but studies have shown that cats can be infected under laboratory conditions and there have been anecdotal reports of cats with Lyme-like symptoms responding to Lyme disease therapy.

This study will help determine the types of ticks that attach to cats, the prevalence of Borrelia bergdorferi infection in these ticks, and the geographic distribution of both of these important factors. This information is vital to understanding Lyme disease in cats and the factors that may explain whether and to what extent cats are susceptible to this common disease-causing organism.


We are interested in determining the extent to which ticks removed from cats are infected with the Lyme disease-causing bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi.  We will use this information to develop a map showing the percentage of Lyme-positive ticks by the county from which they were collected and to assess which tick species is most commonly found on cats in different areas. When ticks come into the laboratory, they will first be identified as to species based upon visual inspection and body morphology. DNA will then be collected from the ticks and used to verify the tick species identification and to determine whether it carries Borrelia burgdorferi

Ticks will be collected and identified by species between late summer and fall of this year. Molecular analyses to determine whether or not ticks are harboring Borrelia burgdorferi will begin in late fall. Participants will be notified of the results of the analyses via e-mail beginning in spring 2016.

Please complete this pdf and submit it with the ticks.

Agreement of Understanding

These tests are not intended to provide clinical diagnosis of disease, nor should they be interpreted as a substitute for clinical testing or consultation with a veterinarian.

Results from your tick test are useful in determining the timing, location, and abundance of infected ticks on cats. Accordingly, we share this information with the public and health agencies that may request it. The shared data is completely anonymous.

Shipping/Contact information

Ticks may be submitted for testing after safe removal from your cat(s) by placing them in two sealed zip-lock bag, one inside another, both sealed and sending via overnight or priority carrier to:

Cornell University
C4-114 VMC
930 Campus Road
Ithaca NY, 14853-6401

(607) 253-3394 can be used for shipping purposes only.

Most shipping/freight companies ask that you send the tick in along with your name, address, phone number (with area code), and payment. You may want to check with the lab for any additional specifics. For more information regarding shipping or specifics of this project, please contact