Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Cats

Font Size

Bacterial Diseases in Cats

Salmonella and Bacterial Diseases in Cats

This disease is caused by a type of bacteria that produces gastrointestinal infection in susceptible animals. It tends to affect kittens housed in crowded, unsanitary surroundings and cats whose natural resistance has been weakened by a viral infection, malnutrition, or other stress. Salmonella remain alive for many months or years in soil and manure. In cats, the disease is acquired by consuming raw or commercially contaminated foods, by licking animal manure off their feet or coats, or by making oral contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected cat. This bacterial infection is a risk for cats fed a raw diet, unless excellent food-handling hygiene is practiced at all times.

Signs of infection include high fever, vomiting and diarrhea (in 90 percent of cases), dehydration, and weakness. The stool may be bloody and foul smelling. Dehydration develops when vomiting and diarrhea are prolonged. Bacteria in the bloodstream can cause abscesses in the liver, kidneys, uterus, and lungs. Conjunctivitis will be seen in some cats. The acute illness, which lasts four to ten days, may be followed by a chronic diarrhea that persists for more than a month. Death will occur in about half of cases. Abortions have been reported.

Recommended Related to Cats

Bathing Your Cat

With her built-in grooming tools (tongue and teeth, of course), your fastidious feline is well-equipped to tackle her own haircare needs. But if she is very dirty or gets into something sticky or smelly, you may need to give her a bath. Read the following tips before you begin to ensure minimal stress and maximum efficiency. 1. Perfect timing: Schedule baths when your cat’s at her most mellow. A play session with a cat dancer or other toy of choice can help tire out even the friskiest of felines...

Read the Bathing Your Cat article > >

Cats (and dogs) often are asymptomatic carriers. Bacteria shed in their feces can, under appropriate conditions, produce active infection in domestic animals and humans.

Diagnosis is made by identifying salmonella bacteria in stool cultures (carrier state) or in the blood, feces, and infected tissues of cats suffering acute infection.

Treatment: Mild, uncomplicated cases respond to correction of the dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. Antibiotics (chloramphenicol, amoxicillin, the quinolone class of antibiotics, and sulfa drugs) are reserved for severely ill cats. Antibiotics can favor the growth of drug-resistant salmonella species. When antibiotics are used, it is best to administer them via injection and not orally. This will minimize the chances of the cat developing resistant strains of this bacteria.

Intravenous fluids will be needed for severely ill cats. Even cats with mild cases of this type of infectious diarrhea may need subcutaneous fluids and replacement of electrolytes.

Prevention: Prevent the disease by housing cats in roomy, sanitary conditions where they can be well cared for and properly fed.

Public health considerations: Since this is a disease that can spread to people, excellent hygiene must be practiced when handling feces and cleaning litter boxes.

Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is a disease that produces acute infectious diarrhea in kittens. It also occurs in catteries and shelter cats-most of whom are in poor condition and are suffering from other intestinal infections.

The bacterium is acquired by contact with contaminated food, water, uncooked poultry or beef, or animal feces. Campylobacter species can survive for up to five weeks in water or unpasteurized milk.

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

Today on WebMD

kitten with onions
Slideshow
Night stalking cat
Slideshow
 
Young woman holding Papillon
Slideshow
Kitten playing
Quiz
 
cat on couch
Evaluator
Kitten using litter box
Quiz
 
sleeping kitten
Slideshow
sad kitten looking at milk glass
Slideshow
 
Cat looking at fish
Slideshow
muddy dog on white sofa
Quiz
 
Maine Coon cat breed
Article
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats
Slideshow