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Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats is a bacterium that can cause an upper respiratory illness. Today, our Stockton vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of Bordetella in cats.

Feline Bordetella

Bordetella bronchiseptica causes respiratory illness in a variety of species. It is linked to Bordetella pertussis, which causes "whooping cough" in humans, and is thus categorized as a rare zoonosis (disease transmissible from animals to humans). It is a disease-causing agent in dogs (one of the major causes of 'kennel cough'), cats, pigs, and rabbits, and can occasionally cause sickness in humans.

How Bordetella in Spreads in Cats

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica shed germs through saliva, nasal secretion, and droplets that mist out when kitty sneezes. This makes direct touch or inhalation an efficient method of transmission.

Although the bacteria are vulnerable to disinfectants, they are likely to persist in the environment for 1-2 weeks. The surroundings, bedding, food bowls, grooming equipment, and so on may all be sources of illness if not maintained and meticulously cleaned.

Signs of Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella infections in cats cause mild sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever. However, in rare situations (particularly in young kittens and cats under intense stress), the infection may be more serious and end in death. Symptoms often persist for 7 – 10 days.

Diagnosing Bordetella In Cats

The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using sample swabs collected from the pharynx. Bacterial culture (using a particular culture medium) or PCR (polymerase chain reaction - a molecular technique for detecting the bacterium's genetic material) can also be used to identify the bacterium.

Treating Cats With Bordetella

Yes, they can! These infections are often successfully treated with antibacterial medicines like Doxycycline (or maybe a fluoroquinolone antibiotic). However, because certain bacteria are resistant to some antibiotics, it is often preferable to do sensitivity testing in a laboratory. Bear in mind, though, that an extremely severe infection may require additional supportive care and hospitalization.

Most Bordetella infections are considered mild, and no special precautions are required for most cats since the risk of infection and serious illness is minimal.

However, it is never a guarantee that there will be minimal risk. A good and effective Bordetella vaccine is available (vaccination is administered by drops in the nose), and this is an important aspect of disease prevention.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs of Bordetella? Contact our Stockton vets to have your kitty cared for.

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New Patients Welcome

Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our compassionate vets are experienced in caring for Stockton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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