Leptospirosis in Cats

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by bacteria known as Leptospira interrogans, which can be contracted from infested surfaces. The bacteria will enter the blood flow and affect other organs. The infection may be transmitted to humans also, so extra measures must be taken to prevent the infection of you and family members when around a pet with leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis in Cats

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the presence of leptospires. The leptospires enter the blood stream and then travel to other organs such as the liver, kidneys or even the central nervous system, causing several complications. However, as soon as the body starts producing antibodies, the bacteria may be fought off. Cats that have a weaker immune system will develop more complications, as the antibodies may not be produced in time to eliminate the bacteria.

Treatment may be required if the cat’s system is not able to fight off the infection.

Leptospires Transmission

The leptospires may get in the cat’s blood flow through direct contact with another infected cat. However, the bacteria may also be contracted by ingesting infested water (i.e. stagnant water), mud and soil.

The urine, feces and other body fluids of an infested animal may also contain the bacteria.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis may manifest through symptoms such as:

  • Elevated fever
  • Painful muscles and difficulties moving
  • Stiff muscles
  • Shivering
  • General state of weakness
  • Lack of appetite, despite an increased water intake
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, often with blood
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Nasal and ocular discharges
  • Irregular pulse
  • Swelling of lymph nodes

These symptoms will vary according to which organs are affected first by the bacteria.

Diagnosing Leptospirosis

A blood test and a urine test will confirm the diagnosis. The vet will also want to find details about the cat’s history to identify the possible means of infection.

Leptospirosis Treatment Options

In most cases, treatment is not necessary, as the cat’s immune system will quickly produce antibodies that will eliminate the infection.

However, in some cats, the infectious agents may reproduce at an alarming rate and a treatment with antibiotics may be required.

If the infection attacks the kidneys, this can lead to severe damage and may be fatal. It’s important to monitor the evolution of the disease and make sure the kidneys are not affected.

If the cat is severely affected, hospitalization and fluid therapy will be required. Blood transfusions may also be needed.

Preventing Leptospirosis in Humans

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, so this means that you can contract the infection by touching an infested cat. If your cat has leptospirosis or is suspected of having the infection, you should wear gloves when you bathe, groom or handle the pet. Make sure not to touch urine, feces, vomit or any discharges from an infected pet.

A vaccine is available, so you may opt to get this if your pet is particularly exposed to leptospirosis.