Treating Cat Kennel Cough with Antibiotics

Cat kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection primarily caused by the bacteria Bordatella bronchiseptica, and it is common among cats living in rescue catteries, breeding catteries, research facilities and multicat households. This infection can also be caused by other respiratory tract viruses such as the parainfluenza virus and respiratory coronavirus.

This cough is also found to affect cats and dogs living in the same household. Stressful conditions such as weaning, parturition, visiting catteries, poor hygiene and traveling to cat shows can cause kennel cough in the animal.

Symptoms of Cat Kennel Cough

Symptoms of kennel cough are similar to that of upper respiratory infections in cats. The degree of severity of infection varies across cats.

Kittens are severely affected in comparison to adult cats. Kennel cough is progressive and wet sounding and often the cat struggles to catch its breath. Other common symptoms include persistent coughing, sneezing with nasal discharge, ocular discharge, fever, loss of appetite, depression, and enlargement of lymph nodes under the jaw. It is not always necessary that the cats should show all these symptoms even if they are infected.

Diagnosing the Cat Cough

The veterinarian can accurately identify the root cause of the cat cough. After the preliminary enquiry regarding the breed and their mannerisms, the veterinarian checks the gums and tonsils. Often he/she recommends conducting a laboratory analysis on the animal, which includes blood tests, culturing of sputum, x-rays, and ultrasound. Kennel cough infection can be confirmed with the help of laboratory culturing of sputum.

Transmission of the Disease

Kennel cough is an airborne disease that affects the upper respiratory system. It is transmitted via a sneeze or cough from the infected animal and by sharing feeding bowls, mutual grooming and saliva. Often catteries and shelters that are overcrowded are at risk of developing the infection.

Initial Care

At the first sign of infection, the cat should be isolated from other animals. Gently clean the eyes and mucous areas using a cotton swab and place the cat in a quiet room. The pet should be immediately taken to the veterinarian for further diagnosis and treatment. Remember to use gloves while handling the animal in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other animals.

Use of Antibiotics

The treatment or medicines for kennel cough needs to address both the destruction of the causative agent and enhancement of the immune system. If untreated, cat kennel cough can become fatal, leading to the death of the animal.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics. Some common prescription drugs include Tetracycline, Doxycycline, combination of Amoxicillin/Clavulonic acid, Clavamox, Baytril, Chloromycetin, Kanamycin, Cephalasporine, Antirobe, Cephalothin, Trimeth-sulfa, Primaxin and Gentamicin.

Usually, cats are found to be resistant to Trimethoprim and Ampicillin. Reports also show that this infection can be treated by using tetracycline-resistant plasmids. The standard treatment duration is 14 days; however, the treatment can be extended for one more week. A note of caution: the treatment should only be carried out after consultation with a registered veterinarian.

Intranasal vaccines are also available for preventing the disease. These vaccines are reaction free and safer for pregnant cats. The immunity develops within 72 hours after the vaccination of 8-week-old kittens.

Preventing Cat Kennel Cough

The preventive methods involve the maintenance of hygiene in the cattery. The sick cat should be isolated from the rest of the animals to avoid further spread of the disease. Vaccines can also be taken to prevent the disease, especially if there are many cats in the same household.