Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause upper respiratory illness in cats. Antibiotics can effectively cure infections, and many areas offer an effective vaccination. In this article, our Stanwood vets discuss cat bordetella, how to identify it, and steps to prevent it.

What Is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica infects various species, leading to respiratory illnesses. It is associated with Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of "whooping cough" in humans, making it a rare zoonotic disease (transmissible from animals to humans). This bacterium causes illnesses in dogs, often contributing to 'kennel cough' and affecting cats, pigs, and rabbits. In some cases, it can also result in human infections.

Spread Of Bordetella In Cats

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica spread germs through their saliva, nasal secretions, and droplets released when they sneeze. Direct contact or inhaling these particles is an effective way of transmission.

While disinfectants can kill the bacteria, they can still survive in the environment for 1-2 weeks. Failure to thoroughly clean the surroundings, bedding, food bowls, grooming equipment, and other items can serve as potential sources of illness.

Symptoms Of Bordetella In Cats?

Bordetella infections in cats cause mild sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever. However, in rare situations (particularly in young kittens and under intense stress), the infection may be more serious and end in death. Symptoms often persist for 7 – 10 days.

Diagnosing Bordetella In Cats

The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using sample swabs collected from the pharynx. Bacterial culture (using a particular culture medium) or PCR (polymerase chain reaction - a molecular technique for detecting the bacterium's genetic material) can also be used to identify the bacterium.

Can Cats With Bordetella Get Treament?

They can! You can typically treat these infections successfully with antibacterial medicines like Doxycycline or a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. However, because some bacteria resist certain antibiotics, conducting sensitivity testing in a laboratory is often better.

Keep in mind, though, that an extremely severe infection may necessitate additional supportive care and hospitalization.

Most Bordetella infections are mild, and most cats don't require any special precautions since the risk of infection and serious illness is minimal.

Nevertheless, it's never guaranteed that the risk will be minimal. You can bolster disease prevention with a good and effective vaccine administered through nasal drops – a crucial aspect of disease prevention.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Please contact our Stanwood vets to schedule an appointment if you suspect your cat has bordetella. Our vets in Stanwood will diagnose the condition and offer the necessary treatment options to help your feline friend recover.