Bacterial Diseases in Cats
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.
The incubation period for disease is one to seven days. Signs of acute
infection include vomiting and watery diarrhea that contains mucus and
sometimes blood. The disease usually runs its course in 5 to 15 days, but may
be followed by chronic diarrhea in which bacteria is shed in the feces.
Treatment: Treat mild diarrhea. Keep the cat warm, dry, and in a stress-free
environment. More severely affected cats will require veterinary management
with intravenous fluids to correct dehydration. Antibiotics may be advisable.
Erythromycin and ciprofloxacin are the current drugs of choice.
Public health considerations: Campylobacteriosis is a common cause of
diarrhea in humans. Most human cases arise from contact with newly acquired
kittens and puppies who are suffering from diarrhea. Parents should be aware
that kittens with diarrhea may harbor zoonotic pathogens. Good hygiene is
essential, especially for young children and people who are
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a cause of upper respiratory infection in cats.
This bacteria is present in normal, healthy cats as well, so it seems to be a
problem secondary to viral upper respiratory infections. Rarely, pneumonia will develop.
This illness is more severe in young cats and in shelters or situations with
crowding, poor ventilation, and stress. Clinical signs include lethargy, fever,
anorexia, coughing, sneezing, discharges from the eyes and nose, and
swollen lymph nodes under the chin. Difficulty breathing suggests
Treatment: Supportive care is important, with antibiotics if needed. An
intranasal vaccine is available.