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Bordetella in Cats-Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Bordetellosis (Bd), also known as Bordetella is a highly infectious disease more often associated with dogs (known as "kennel cough"). However, it is also  found in cats. It is caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and may be the primary cause of respiratory disease in cats or it may run as a concurrent infection with viral infections such as calicivirus and feline herpesvirus.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is related to Bordetella pertussis, which is responsible for a whooping cough in humans.

It is more commonly a problem in multi-cat households.

How is bordetella transmitted?

Bordetella is transmitted via aerosol (sneezing and or coughing).

As well as cat to cat transmission, dogs may also pass the disease on to cats.

Multi-cat households, boarding catteries, and shelters may be at greater risk than single cat households due to the high infectiousness of this disease.

Symptoms of  bordetella in cats:

Often, symptoms of feline bordetella in adults are mild, but kittens are more seriously affected than may appear to be fine one moment, but the disease can rapidly progress to bronchopneumonia and cause death.

Symptoms of bordetella are similar to that of other causes of upper respiratory infections in cats and include;


It is possible for a cat to be a carrier. That is they 'carry' and can pass on the infection but do not show any outward symptoms themselves.

Diagnosis of  bordetella:

Diagnosis cannot be made by physical examination alone as symptoms are similar to that of other causes of respiratory diseases.

Oropharyngeal and or nasal swabs to isolate the bacteria

It is more difficult to diagnose in carrier cats as they only shed the bacteria intermittently and therefore may return negative test results.

Treatment and prevention of bordetella:

Bordetella can be treated with antibiotics. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate course for your cat.

There is a vaccine for Bordetella, Nobivac Bb. I am presently unsure which countries it is available. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you

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