Kennel Cough In Cats
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Rest in Peace Casper
It is with deep regret that I find it necessary to write this article on kennel cough in cats. For those of you who enjoyed the story written earlier in the week titled The Mother Cat Who Wasn't, it is such sad news that I must report little Casper has died.
The vet believes Casper died either of panleuk or FIP. He was recovering well then succumbed quickly to an illness. A friend of mine alerted all of those following the story that kennel cough could have been to blame. My thanks to you Jessica for that information!
Please take the time to educate yourself about this sometimes silent killer of cats!
The website VetInfo describes kennel cough best. In summary they say:
Kennel cough is one of the most respiratory diseases affecting cats. It is highly contagious and transmitted by close contact with an infected cat or dog. It is usually caused by the bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica infecting the back of the mouth as a secondary infection. It can kill kittens but is not usually a severe illness in adult cats but can kill adults with suppressed immune systems.
Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and swollen lymph nodes. It basically has the same symptoms of a human cold and an infected cat may experience trouble breathing.It can also be present in a cat and show no symptoms at all. Kittens are at a high risk of fatality as this illness can kill in a matter of hours as the bacteria quickly turn into pneumonia.
Kennel cough in cats is diagnosed using a PCR test, which is a swabbing of the nose and throat. Usually test results take 48-72 hours, so a vet must use his best judgment in diagnosing the illness. Treatment to kill bacteria is Clavamox or Baytril antibiotics. An infected cat must be made to eat or be given IV therapy or there is little chance of survival.
Remember the illness is basically viral and just has to run its course. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. Antibiotics are only used to treat/prevent secondary infection.
This is one more reason it's important to have your kittens vaccinated against as many viral illnesses as possible as young as and as often as your vet recommends.
I found in my research I found a Louisiana State University study showed the illness was present and without symptoms in 24% of the cats in one Louisiana shelter.
There is a vaccine available that can be administered on kittens as young as four weeks old. The vaccine is given either by injection or as a nasal drop. It isn't one typically given unless a cat is living in conditions where they are suseptible to the illness. Please discuss this issue with your vet if you believe your cat or kitten is at risk.
The fact that kennel cough is so widespread is terrifying to me. Especially since there may be no symptoms and the disease can kill in a matter of hours.
In closing, I'd like to add that a cat can contract kennel cough from a dog. Studies show that many of the cats who contract the illness live with dogs. If the dogs have it, the cat may also become infected. So be sure to have your dogs vaccinated also. The vaccine is typical for dogs in the U.S. and shouldn't be an issue in finding a vet to innoculate your pets.
Please keep kittens Blaze and Shimmer along with their cat daddy Blanco in your thoughts. Whatever claimed the life of Casper is still a danger for the rest of their cat family. Let's also send our strength and healing energy to Abby's Animal Angels, the rescue group who is working around the clock to save this former death row cat and his kittens.
I'll post more should we learn a definite cause of death or if there are any updates on this beautiful little family.