How to Treat Kennel Cough in Cats

Kennel cough in cats is a respiratory infection that's caused by a coccobacillus microorganism, known as bordetella bronchiseptica. The infection is more common in dogs than in cats, but since it can easily spread from one animal to another it's important to watch for any symptoms of kennel cough, and initiate treatment at the earliest.

Cats that have been lodged at boarding facilities or pets that live in catteries are at greatest risk of contracting kennel cough. Although the condition can be treated with the administration of certain medicines, some cats may become carriers of the condition for life.

Symptoms of Feline Kennel Cough Include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Halitosis
  • Sneezing
  • Hacking cough
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lethargy

Treatment of Kennel Cough in Cats

After confirming diagnosis the vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics based on the severity of the infection present. Several antibiotics kill both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, and these antibiotics are effective in treating kennel cough. If the cat is excessively debilitated, the vet will administer IV fluids to maintain electrolyte imbalance. Cough suppressants or expectorants will also be prescribed based on the type of symptoms that the cat is exhibiting.

Most cats suffering from respiratory infections like kennel cough show little to no interest in food. However, since the cat will be administered antibiotics, it's important to give the pet food that's highly nutritious. You could also warm up the cat's food to make it more palatable.

Antibiotics to Treat Bacterial Infections Include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Tetracycline 
  • Doxycycline

Tips for Pet Owners

Since kennel cough is easily transmitted from one pet to the other, you should dispose of pet feces and urine in the right manner. If you use towels to wipe off nasal and eye discharge, dispose of them promptly and make sure you confine the pet to one particular room in the house. Wash the cat's bedding in hot water to kill bacteria or any other infectious agents that are present. Also keep the cat in a warm and stress-free environment.

If the vet prescribes any medication to control the symptoms of kennel cough, make sure you read and follow instructions listed on the package to avoid overdosing your cat. Some pets may develop side effects to certain ingredients present in antibiotics. If this happens, inform the vet and discontinue medication after obtaining vet approval.

Since cats that have recovered from kennel cough may become carriers of the disease for life, it's important to strengthen the pet's immune system by administering nutrient and vitamin supplements. These supplements should prevent the cat from developing auto immune disorders and other life threatening illnesses. However, it's best to find out which supplements are ideal for your pet's unique needs by discussing it with the vet.