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Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause upper respiratory illness in cats. The bacterium is mostly a concern in environments where cats spend time in large groups, such as rescue shelters and some places where cats are bred. Today, our Parrish vets discuss how cats are affected by bordetella and what you can do to spot and stop it. 

What is Bordetella in Cats?

Bordetella bronchiseptica triggers respiratory illness in many animals. It has been linked to Bordetella pertussis, which causes "whooping cough" in humans, and is therefore classified as a rare zoonosis (a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans). It is a disease-causing agent in cats, dogs, rabbits, and pigs, and can occasionally cause illness in humans. 

How Bordetella Spreads 

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica expel germs via their saliva and nasal secretions (in addition to droplets when they sneeze). Therefore, this disease can be efficiently transmitted via direct touch or inhalation. 

While the bacteria are susceptible to disinfectants, they are likely to survive for one to two weeks in the environment. If not maintained and meticulously cleaned, a cat's surroundings, including their food bowls, bedding, and grooming equipment can all become sources of illness. 

Symptoms of Bordetella in Cats 

Bordetella infection causes a range of symptoms, including mild coughing, sneezing, fever, and nasal and ocular discharge in cats. However, the infection can turn severe and potentially fatal in rare cases (particularly in young kittens and cats under extreme stress). If your cat is infected with Bordetella, the symptoms will typically last between 7 and 10 days. 

Diagnosing Bordetella in Cats

Once you or your vet suspect Bordetella may be causing your cat's illness, your vet will want to conduct perform a battery of diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. Swabs are used to collect mucus from the pharynx. These may reveal the bacterium during lab tests. Bacterial culture (using a particular culture medium) or PCR (polymerase chain reaction – a molecular technique for detecting bacterium's genetic material) may also be used to identify the bacterium. 

Treatment for Bordetella in Cats

Antibiotics are generally very effective at treating infections. The most effective treatment is likely to be doxycycline (or another fluoroquinolone antibiotic). However, because some bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics, it is frequently preferable to conduct sensitivity testing in a laboratory. Keep in mind, however, that a severe infection may necessitate hospitalization and additional supportive care.

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.

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.

Do you believe your cat is suffering from Bordetella? Contact our Parrish vets today to book an exam. We can diagnose your cat's condition and offer treatment options.

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100