Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats is a bacterium that can cause an upper respiratory illness. It is mostly a concern in environments where cats are maintained in large groupings, such as rescue shelters and some breeding houses. Antibiotics may successfully cure infections, and an effective vaccination is available in many areas. Today, our Los Angeles vets discuss cat bordetella and what you can do to spot and stop it.

What is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica causes respiratory infections in a variety of animals. It has been linked to Bordetella pertussis, the cause of "whooping cough" in humans, and is thus classified as a rare zoonosis (a disease transmitted from animals to humans). It causes disease in dogs, cats, pigs, and rabbits and, on rare occasions, in humans.

How Bordetella Spreads

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica shed germs through their saliva and nasal secretions. As a result, direct touch or inhalation is an effective method of transmitting this disease among cats.

Although the bacteria are susceptible to disinfectants, they can live for 1-2 weeks in the environment. If not properly maintained and cleaned, the surroundings, bedding, food bowls, grooming equipment, and so on can all be sources of illness.

Symptoms of Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella infection causes mild sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever in cats. However, in rare cases (particularly in young kittens and those under extreme stress), the infection can be severe, and even fatal. Bordetella infection in cats typically causes symptoms to last 7 to 10 days.

Diagnosing Bordetella in Cats 

If your vet suspect Bordetella to be the cause of your cat's illness, they will want to conduct thorough diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis. The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using 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.

Treatment for Bordetella in Cats

Antibiotics are generally highly effective at treating infections. However, because some bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics, sensitivity testing is often performed in a laboratory. Keep in mind, however, that a severe infection may require hospitalization and additional supportive care.

The majority of Bordetella infections are considered mild, and most cats do not require special precautions because the risk of infection and serious illness is low. However, there is no guarantee that the risk will be minimal.

How to Prevent Bordetella in Cats

A good and effective vaccination is available and administered through drops in the nose. Vaccination is an important part of providing your cat with protection against Bordetella and other serious diseases.

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.

Do you believe your cat is suffering from Bordetella? Contact our Los Angeles vets today for diagnosis and treatment options.