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All About Bordetella in Cats

All About Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella in cats is a highly contagious bacterium that causes upper respiratory illness and spreads rapidly between cats. While treatment is available, preventing the illness in the first place is always preferable. Our Denver vets explain.

What is Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats?

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 is Bordetella spread?

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica shed germs via their saliva and nasal secretions (as well as droplets when they sneeze),. Therefore, direct touch or inhalation is 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 meticulously cleaned.

What are the cat Bordetella symptoms?

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

How do vets diagnose cat Bordetella?

The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using 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.

What is the treatment for Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats?

Yes, there is! Antibacterial medicines are typically extremely successful in treating infections. Such medicines include Doxycycline (or maybe a fluoroquinolone antibiotic), which is likely to be the most effective treatment. 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. 

How can I prevent my cat from getting Bordetella?

Our vets firmly believe that prevention is far better than treatment and Bordetella is no exception. A good and effective vaccine is available from your veterinarian's office (vaccination is administered by drops in the nose), to help prevent you kitty from catching Bordetella in the first place.

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 think that your kitty may be suffering from Bordetella bronchiseptica? Contact Downtown Animal Care Center to an examination for your cat.

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