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How to spot if your cat has bordetellosis

Bordetellosis is a contagious bacterial disease in cats which causes upper respiratory tract abnormalities.

What are the signs of bordetellosis in cats?

Some carrier cats may not show any symptoms but the most common signs are:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Crackling lung sounds, moist cough, or (less frequently) wheezing
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, under the jaw

Cats that have bordetellosis can spread the bacteria for up to five months, so it is important to keep them isolated from other cats.

How is cat bordetellosis treated?

If you suspect your cat has bordetellosis, your vet will perform a complete physical examination as well as a full blood count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis and electrolyte panel. They may also carry out an X-ray to view any abnormalities of the lungs – especially if pneumonia has developed.

Your cat should rest in a quiet place, and your vet will prescribe antimicrobial medication and fluid therapy. Your cat should recover in a few weeks, though repeat x-rays may be needed.

It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before starting any treatment.

How do I stop my cat getting bordetellosis?

If your cat hasn’t already contracted the condition, you can have them vaccinated against bordetellosis.

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet with bordetellosis

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new pet and ask for more details on how the condition has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any pet who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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