Educational Articles

Cats + Infectious Diseases

  • Unfortunately, anthrax is being used as a method of bio-terrorism and cats can be infected, as can most mammals. Birds are normally resistant to the disease. Different animals have different levels of susceptibility to anthrax infection.

  • Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are bacterial infections that are minimally or no longer responsive to commonly used antibiotics. In other words, these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics - they cannot be killed and their growth cannot be stopped. Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections most commonly affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract, or the respiratory tract.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stand united in their position that feeding raw food to cats is potentially dangerous to both the cat and to you. In the most recent study conducted, nearly 25% of the raw food samples tested positive for harmful bacteria, including Salmonella ssp. and Listeria monocytogenes.

  • Botulism is a rare condition that can cause paralysis in cats. It is caused by ingesting the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum that can grow on raw meat and dead animals. The toxin can cause muscle paralysis and lead to death. It is difficult to diagnose and there is no vaccine available, although an antitoxin is available if the condition is identified before signs develop.

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, related to intestinal worms. Capillaria, however, can live in a number of areas within the body, including the bladder and respiratory tract. There are multiple species of Capillaria; some species affect cats, some affect dogs, and some can affect both species. These parasites are acquired from the environment, when a cat eats the Capillaria eggs directly or eats an earthworm infected with the parasite. Treatment is simple and effective, though diagnosis can be challenging.

  • COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease of humans that was first discovered in late 2019. The illness is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which is a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. Certain animals can be infected by the COVID-19 virus, but it appears to be an infrequent occurrence. If you contract COVID-19, you will need to remain quarantined on your property which may make caring for dogs a bit more challenging. If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 (with or without a positive test result), you should minimize contact with your pets. Just as you would quarantine yourself from the other human members of your home while sick, you should also quarantine yourself from your pets. If you are hospitalized and your pets must be cared for by a boarding kennel or pet sitter, inform the kennel or pet sitter that you are ill, allowing them to take the necessary precautions.

  • Cat bites are puncture wounds that can cause bacterial infections with Pasteurella multocida that can spread within the tissues or into the blood stream. Any bite should be cleaned immediately and assessed by a physician as soon as possible, as antibiotics are frequently needed to treat infection. Your doctor may recommend vaccination with tetanus or rabies prophylaxis. Your doctor will report any bite to the local health department and your cat will have to undergo a quarantine – the length of which depends on their rabies vaccination status.

  • Feline chlamydiosis is an infection caused by a bacterial organism now called Chlamydophila felis or C. felis (an outdated name for this is Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain)). It is an unusual bacterium because it must live and multiply inside the body cells of the cat whereas most bacteria live outside cells.

  • When clinical signs of upper respiratory tract inflammation, such as sneezing or nasal and eye discharge, persist over weeks or months, or when they tend to recur at intervals of a few weeks, the condition is referred to as chronic upper respiratory tract disease. A runny or stuffed-up nose is the most common clinical sign in cats with chronic infections. There are many causes of this relatively common problem in cats. The treatment will be determined by the test results and diagnosis.

  • Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a one-celled organism or protozoa called coccidia. In cats and dogs, most coccidia are of the genus called Isospora. Isospora felis and Isospora rivolta are the most common species of coccidia found in cats.