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Antibiotics for Cats

Why Antibiotics Fail

Antibiotics may not always be effective, for a number of reasons.

Inadequate Wound Care

Antibiotics enter the bloodstream and are carried to the source of the infection. Abscesses, wounds that contain devitalized tissue, and wounds with foreign bodies (dirt or splinters, for example) are resistant areas. Under such circumstances, antibiotics can’t penetrate the wound completely. Accordingly, it is essential to drain abscesses, clean dirty wounds, and remove foreign bodies.

Inappropriate Selection

An antibiotic chosen to treat an infection must be effective against the specific bacteria that is infecting the body. The best way to determine susceptibility is to sample the organism, grow it on a culture plate, and identify it by the way its colony appears and by microscopic characteristics. Antibiotic discs are then applied to the culture plate to see which discs inhibit the growth of bacteria colonies. The results are graded according to whether the bacteria is sensitive, indifferent, or insensitive to the effects of the antibiotic. Laboratory findings, however, do not always coincide with results in the patient. Nonetheless, sensitivity testing is the best way to select the most effective antibiotic.

Resistant Strains

Antibiotics can destroy the normal flora in the body that crowds out pathogens. This allows harmful bacteria to multiply and cause disease. Furthermore, strains of bacteria may develop that are resistant to antibiotics and thus cannot be effectively controlled. This is particularly likely to occur when antibiotics are used

  • For too short a time
  • In too low a dosage
  • When the antibiotic is not bactericidal

Microorganisms that are resistant to one antibiotic are usually resistant to other antibiotics of the same class. The development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the main reasons why antibiotics should be used exactly as prescribed and only in situations in which they will clearly benefit the cat. Antimicrobial resistance is becoming a serious health problem for both pets and people.

Antibiotics should only be used when necessary and always used appropriately. Most upper respiratory infections in cats are caused by viruses that are not affected by antibiotics. Also, most bladder problems in cats are not accompanied by bacterial infections and will not benefit from treatment with antibiotics.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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