SlimKitty Health Check: Bacterial Diseases
In our first post in our SlimKitty Health Check series, we cover Bacterial Diseases. As in our SlimDoggy Health Check Series, we will cover Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention. This isn’t meant to replace the advice or direction of your veterinarian, but rather to help educate you particularly around prevention as our goal is to keep your kitty healthy and fit.
There are several bacterial diseases that cats share with dogs and even with humans. We discussed some of these in our SlimDoggy Health Check: Bacterial Diseases post. We will cover some additional feline bacterial infections.
“Diseases caused by bacteria. The most common infectious diseases, they range from minor skin infections to bubonic plague and tuberculosis”. Encyclopedia Britannica
“Bacterial diseases include any type of illness caused by bacteria. Bacteria are a type of microorganism, which are tiny forms of life that can only be seen with a microscope. Other types of microorganisms include viruses, some fungi, and some parasites”. HealthGrades
Some common feline bacterial infections:
Feline chlamydophila: Is caused by the Chlamydophila felis bacterium. It generally attacks the occular system of the cat causing infections and conjunctivitis. Infection is usually through direct contact. Initial symptoms include watery discharge and then symptoms of pain and discomfort such as holding their head to one side or rubbing their eyes. Untreated, the eyes will swell and become reddened and sore. It may be accompanied by nasal discharge and sneezing. It is highly contagious and as with most bacteria the young and old are more susceptible. Diagnosis is fairly easy with a culture of the discharge and treatment is also straight-forward with a dose of antibiotics and possibly a topical treatment. Chlamydophila is zoonotic and can be passed to humans, so routine care and cleanliness should be adhered to prevent transmission or contamination to other cats.
Bartonellosis: This infection is also called Cat Scratch Disease (or Fever)…yes of the song by the same name. Cat Scratch Fever can be found in humans who have been bitten or scratched by a cat carrying the disease and is caused by an infection from the Bartonella henselae bacteria. In humans, the disease is characterized first by a swelling at the site and possible blister – it may be accompanied by fever and flu like symptoms. The disease is thought to be spread in cats through fleas as particles of the bacteria are found in their feces. A cat may not show any symptoms of the disease at all, or very mild fever or swollen lymph nodes. There may be some connection to more severe diseases in cats such as gingivitis, gastrointestinal issues, but more study is need to prove that link. A blood test is the most effective diagnostic tool, but since the bacteria may go dormant, several test may be needed. Treatment is not usually necessary, but in severe cases, a topical analgesic or antibiotics may be needed. Prevention is actually the best treatment for the disease. Keep your cat flee and tick free.
Streptococcus:Is a common infection usually found in kittens and older cats with weakened immune systems. It is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. Symptoms are easily recognized: pain, fever, runny nose, coughing possibly leading to pneumonia. Diagnosing a strep infection is typically done through cultures and possibly some blood work. The disease can advance and be quite serious, leading to sepsis and toxic shock syndrome so treatment with antibiotics is important. Preventing the occurrence of a strep infection is through preventative behavior. Kittens and older cats are particularly susceptible, so keep them away from possible exposure and avoid contact with other, possibly infected animals.