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Cats + Infectious Diseases

  • Anthrax is a bacterial infection that rarely affects cats. It is not a new infection but has been revisited due to concerns about bioterrorism. Infection in cats usually occurs through ingestion of infected carcasses, causing clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling of the face and neck. Treatment is highly effective in the early stages of infection.

  • Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are bacterial infections that are minimally or no longer responsive to commonly used antibiotics. Although these bacterial infections occur naturally, the frequent and/or inappropriate use of antibiotics accelerates the process. Cats with certain medical conditions may also be predisposed.

  • Primary vaccination is essential to prevent the return of once common deadly infectious diseases in kittens and cats. Recent research indicates that not all vaccines require yearly boosters. However, there is no evidence that annual booster vaccination is anything but beneficial to most cats. Published research has conclusively shown that abstaining from some boosters can put your cat at risk.

  • This handout discusses aspergillosis in cats, an infection, growth, or allergic response caused by the Aspergillus fungus. If your cat becomes infected, it can be confined to the nasal passages (nasal aspergillosis), or it can spread throughout the body (systemic aspergillosis). The clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of both conditions are outlined.

  • Atovaquone is given by mouth and is used off-label to treat protozoal infections. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include stomach upset or skin rash. Do not use in pets that are pregnant. If a negative reaction occurs, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Feeding raw food to cats is potentially dangerous to both your cat and to you, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA. With nearly 25% of the raw food samples testing positive for harmful bacteria, the health risks for cats who eat the raw food, as well as for the cat owners who handle the food while preparing it, are real. It is reasonable to conclude that a commercially prepared, conventional, complete and life-stage balanced ration is a better choice.

  • Cats are exposed to botulism by eating raw meat or dead animals containing botulinum toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Botulism causes ascending paralysis of the nervous system. Clinical signs are reviewed as well as diagnostic tests and treatment. Prognosis is guarded depending on the amount of toxin ingested and the degree of supportive care available. There is no vaccine.

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, often less than half of a centimeter in length. They are closely related to intestinal worms, though they can live in a variety of locations within the body. Capillaria can affect both dogs and cats, although dogs are more frequently affected. Diagnosis can be difficult because the eggs of Capillaria are shed only on an intermittent basis. While the parasite is easily eliminated with a dewormer, your cat may require additional medications to decrease the inflammation associated with the infection.

  • 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.


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