“Don’t panic, but your child has cat scratch fever”

I am really working hard to earn that mother of the year trophy.

In my latest stellar mom move, I blew off my kid’s weird symptoms for several weeks only to find that they have been battling a literal case of cat scratch fever.

Yes, you heard that right. My beloved only child has acquired an actual DISEASE known as cat scratch fever. You can’t make this stuff up!

This week, I took Xage to the eye doctor. They’ve been complaining of weird blurry patches in their vision for a few weeks now. I hadn’t considered it a pressing emergency. Turns out it actually was this time.

Before you think I’m the worst mother on earth, I have to say in my defense that highly sensitive kiddos are prone to experiencing multiple – and at times bizarre – symptoms daily. They feel and notice EVERY little random thing about their bodies, much of which is normal growing pains or typical human bodily experiences.

When your highly sensitive child is also anxiety-prone, you end up with a kiddo who feels and notices EVERYTHING and then immediately catastrophizes it into a worst-case scenario. We’ve been to the ER countless times for nothing. It gets exhausting – and expensive – and it all ends up being a little bit like the boy who cried wolf. Not everything can be treated like an emergency.

So when I hear something random, like “Mom, I have blurry spots in my vision,” I have a tendency to go okay, let’s see if this one goes away on its own. I just do. Otherwise, we’d be at the doctor’s office or Urgent Care every week!

Clearly, this blurry spots thing didn’t go away. All summer I’ve been urging Xage to keep up with their reading, and they’ve been making very slow progress on their latest book. They keep blaming the blurry spots. So I finally took them to the eye doctor.

And guess what? There’s a very good reason for those blurry spots in their vision. Their optic nerves are inflamed and their retinas are distorted on both eyes. It’s an extremely unusual presentation that our eye doctor had to refer to a text book to identify – and they’re 90% sure it’s a case of neuroretinitis caused by cat scratch fever.

Cat scratch fever is a pretty rare bacterial infection caused by, you guessed it, a cat scratch or bite. Xage has had both. Xage also had a mysterious flu-like illness about a month ago that caused them to miss the week of school leading up to the last day. That was likely the onset of their cat scratch fever – which has since gone into their eyes.

Even though the eye doc told us not to panic, we are understandably freaked out. Xage is under strict instructions not to pick up or hold the cat anymore. Galaxy is an awesome cat and puts up with a lot of handling, but once in a while she does say “no thank you” with her teeth or claws if the loving gets a little too intense. Xage has been scratched – most recently about a month ago, just before the flu-like symptoms.

Kudos to Dr. Rule at EyeShop Optical in Lewis Center for solving this mystery for us. Xage will see a retinal specialist next week and hopefully we can figure out a way to get their beautiful blue peepers back to normal with no blurry spots. In the meantime, reading is off the table and I am dealing with some pretty intense mom guilt over this!

(Spoiler alert: it wasn’t cat scratch fever. Read here for part two of our medical saga!)

Have you ever accidentally overlooked your precious only child having a random, serious disease? Please help me to feel better in the comments or over on Facebook. Or, you can try to make me feel worse – but I doubt that’s possible.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.


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