Urinary Tract Infections in Cats with Baytril

Baytril is a controversial prescription antibiotic known generically as enrofloxacin and used to treat bacterial infections. Many vets prefer enrofloxacin because it is extremely effective, but there are serious side effects that you should be aware of before using it.

Danger of Urinary Tract Infections

Untreated urinary tract infections can spread into the bladder or kidneys causing a serious infection that risks a cat's life. If you suspect your cat has a urinary tract infection, always see a vet. Symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Determination to lie in the bathtub or on cold tile floors
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Lack of appetite and thirst
  • Straining while urinating
  • Urinating around the house

Mild cases may be cleared up using tetracycline antibiotics or homeopathic remedies like cranberry juice. In more serious cases, enrofloxacin works quickly and effectively.

How Enrofloxacin Works

Enrofloxacin is a prescription antibiotic that helps treat any bacterial infection. The medication contains fluoroquinolones that impair a bacteria's DNA structure eventually killing the bacteria and clearing up the infection.

Because enrofloxacin works quickly, it's important to weigh the benefits with the risks and side effects.

Proper Dosing of Baytril in Cats

In the United States, there have been reports of blindness, caused by damage to the retina, being potential side effects in cats taking the antibiotic. The risk is minimal with one out of 122 cats developing the retinal damage. It's not a high chance, but still a risk that concerns cat owners.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that cats receive no more than five milligrams of Baytril per kilogram of body weight every day. Most veterinarians will not prescribe more than 2.27 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to be safe.

In addition to possible blindness, symptoms of a Baytril overdose include:

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Kidney function changes
  • Vomiting

Most of the side effects depend on the dosage given, length of treatment and overall health of the cat prior to taking the antibiotic.

It's important to make sure your cat has access to extra fresh water while taking this antibiotic. Extra water helps prevent damage to the kidneys.

How Baytril Is Administered

Prescription enrofloxacin tablets remain the most common method for administering the antibiotic into your cat. There are also injections given via an IV, but only in an animal hospital or veterinary office.

The enrofloxacin tablets are flavored to ensure a cat takes the full dosage. It is recommended that the antibiotic tablets not be within two hours of having a vitamin supplement or a calcium supplements/antacids. Pregnant or nursing cats should not take Baytril. Be cautious using the antibiotic in older cats, especially if there is underlying kidney disease. Do not feed your cat for an hour before or two hours after taking the medication.

Some veterinarians suggest breaking the tablets in half and giving one-half the dose in the morning and the other half at night. This is especially helpful if the cat seems to get nauseous or vomit after taking the Baytril.