Cat Antibiotics – Everything You Need To Know

antibiotics for cats

What are antibiotics for?

Antibiotics are a class of drugs used to kill bacteria, some fungal and parasitic infections. They come in two forms, bacteriostatic which stop the bacteria reproducing or bacteriocide which kills the bacteria.

Antibiotics usually come in tablet, injectable or liquid form and are used to treat a number of infections in the cat. Some of which include:

  • Bite wound abscess – A pocket of pus in the tissue, most commonly associated with bite wounds
  • Bacterial skin infection – Usually from self-inflicted or acquired scratches
  • Eye infections
  • Bordetella – A highly infectious respiratory disease.
  • Pyometra – An infection of the uterus.
  • Chlamydia – A bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract.
  • Giardia – A protozoal infection of the intestinal tract.

What are the most common antibiotics used for cats?

Yes, there are several commonly prescribed antibiotics given to cats, including:

  • Gentamicin – Respiratory infections, skin and wound infections, bladder infections, eye infections, ear infections, pneumonia.
  • Amoxicillin and clavulanate (Clavulox/Clavamox) – Bladder infections, blood infections, skin infections, bone infections, oral infections, pneumonia.
  • Enrofloxacin (Baytril) – Urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, wound and skin infections.
  • Oxytetracycline (Terramycin) – Sinus infections,  oral infections, hemobartonellosis, eye infections, protozoan infections.
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax) – Commonly used to treat Chlamydia, Staphylococcus aureus infections, Streptococci infections, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), otitis media (middle ear infections) and Bartonella.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, as with any medication there is potential for side effects. Antibiotics not only target harmful bacteria but also the good bacteria found in the stomach. Side effects may vary depending on the antibiotics used.

Common side effects of antibiotics may include:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Allergic reaction including swelling, difficulty breathing, itching and scratching, rashes.
  • Seizures.
  • Toxicity including damage to the liver, kidneys, optic nerves (hearing loss), bone marrow.
  • Secondary infection.
  • Abnormal growth or development of unborn kittens (if used in pregnancy).

A useful way to help common side effects is to give your cat some yoghurt or probiotics to replace the helpful bacteria killed by the medication.

Where can I purchase cat antibiotics?

Your veterinarian must prescribe antibiotics for your cat. He will need to examine your cat and determine what is wrong with him. Never give your cat antibiotics prescribed for human use. Your cat should be seen by a veterinarian and properly assessed so he can prescribe a suitable type of antibiotic for your cat’s particular condition.

Always follow the recommended dose when giving your cat antibiotics and make sure you finish the course.

When antibiotics don’t work:

Sometimes, antibiotics will fail to work for a number of reasons such as inappropriate selection, improper wound care, improper administration (such as not giving antibiotics on an empty stomach OR in other cases with food), not following dosage or frequency instructions. In some cases, the bacteria are resistant to that particular type of antibiotic, and another type will be necessary.

Antibiotic resistance:

The over-use and misuse of antibiotics have created strains of bacteria which are resistant to many common antibiotics. This is becoming an increasingly serious issue which has to be taken seriously by both medical professionals and people.

Antibiotics should be used when there is a bacterial (or in some cases fungal) infection, instructions followed including finishing the entire course. Even if your cat seems better you must finish the entire course.