It all began when one little cat started to feel unwell. Thinking it was nothing more than a cat-cold, her owner decided a few extra snuggles and treats would do the trick.
Moggy's condition goes downhill
But fast forward a few days later, and this was still one sick kitty. What's more, her condition had definitely deteriorated. The Moggy seemed depressed and, most worryingly, she was losing weight. So cat-mum called the vet.
After a brief examination, the vet realised that this cat had a very serious problem. She'd been carrying around an uninvited guest for quite some time. It's called a Cuterebra and, as you're about to find out, they're seriously gross!
Cuterebra, or rodent bots, are caused by large flies. The flies lay their eggs on small animals like rodents, dogs, and cats. Due to the animal's body heat, they become a kind of living incubation unit, allowing the flies to grow into maggots and the maggots to turn into Cuterebra.
Apologies if you're reading this while eating some lunch, but things are about to get even more disgusting. Once fully grown, the Cuterebra bite through the host's skin to create a breathing hole. Then, if you're really unlucky, you'll see it poking its alien-looking head in and out of the opening!
What you need to look out for
Host animals are likely to become lethargic and depressed, while other symptoms include loss of appetite and rapid weight loss.
Thankfully, cases like this are rare and the cat is now fully recovered. Cuterebra larvae seem to prefer rabbits and small rodents. So keep your pet away from any rabbit dens or places where they're likely to encounter any rodents.
But if you do notice any unusual bumps or cysts on or around your pet's neck, get them checked out ASAP.