You’ve probably heard of chlamydia and recognise it as a sexually transmitted disease in humans. However you may also be asking what is chlamydia in cats?
In this post you’ll discover all about chlamydia in cats, signs your cat may have it, as well as diagnosis and treatment. In addition you’ll discover who’s most at risk and how it’s transmitted.
So what exactly is chlamydia in cats?
As a pet parent it’s good to be aware of some of the illnesses our cats can suffer from. Known as feline chlamydia, it’s fairly common and can affect the upper respiratory system or eyes. In addition, it may also affect the genital area, although that’s less common in cats.
Though it’s contagious among other cats you’ll be glad to hear it’s not zoonotic and would be extremely rare for you to catch it. Kittens and very young cats are most at risk, though cats of all ages can get chlamydia.
How do you know if your cat has feline chlamydia?
One of the first signs your kitty may have chlamydia are swollen, red looking eyes. In addition there may be a watery discharge which could be a yellow-greenish colour. Though this may look nasty, your cat may still seem to be normal and eating ok.
However, if left untreated, your fur baby may worsen over the coming months and develop other symptoms such as loss of appetite or sneezing. Conjunctivitis related to chlamydia can be difficult to diagnose, but your vet would take a swab.
Known as chlamydial conjunctivitis, it would probably be painful for a cat and spread to both eyes if not treated. If your kitty has this condition you may be able to see the third eyelid protruding across the eye. As a result your cat may be reluctant to fully open her eyes.
You could try gently bathing the outer corners of the eye with sterile water, until you get an appointment at the veterinary clinic. In fact your vet may suggest this in addition to using ointment or drops. Only ever use sterile water as this is the safest. You can easily buy it from your pharmacy or online.
Other common symptoms
Other signs of feline chlamydia may include coughing, difficulty breathing and runny nose. Don’t let this continue as it could lead to more serious problems such as pneumonia. Fortunately, chlamydia is rarely fatal and easily treated.
It’s always best to get your cat checked out by a vet if symptoms don’t improve or start to get worse. Though in many cases, conjunctivitis is just a simple infection, and sneezing can be a result of anything from an allergy to a cold or flu
However, as I’ve mentioned before, your cat can’t tell you how she’s feeling. Plus, felines are very good at hiding pain and discomfort. Though a basic survival instinct it can be frustrating if you don’t know what’s going on.
Those most likely to get chlamydia are cats in multiple pet households or shelters where you have a lot of cats living together in confined spaces. Also stray or feral cats may be more prone to the disease. It’s also common in catteries and breeding centres and is often why very young kittens are more likely to get chlamydia.
How is chlamydia transmitted
You’ll be pleased to hear the disease can’t be transmitted by handling your cat after petting others. This is because the bacteria is unable to survive outside a cat’s body for very long. It’s more likely to be spread by direct contact from cat to cat.
As we all know, cats regularly groom each other as part of bonding within the family. However this can also easily spread any virus or infection. It only takes one cat to quickly spread the disease among others in the household. Mucus from an infected eye or droplets from the nose can easily be picked up by another kitty. As a result, you may have your own hospital ward of poorly kitties requiring nursing care!
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
The most common way for a vet to diagnose chlamydia is by taking a swab from the infected eye. If other symptoms such as wheezing or coughing are present, xrays of the lungs may also be carried out. This is to rule out pneumonia.
What treatment will infected cats get?
If it’s shown your cat has chlamydia, the most likely treatment will be a course of anti-biotics, either given orally or as an ointment for the eye. It can take up to 6 weeks for your cat to recover, so it’s important to keep her away from any other cats in the household. Also, you must keep her indoors as you wouldn’t want to infect other felines in your neighbourhood.
As some bacterial infections don’t always show, some cats may have the infection but appear completely normal. As there’s no way of knowing if any of your other cats have the virus, you may be advised to treat them as well. In addition, practice basic hygiene at all times.
Even though it’s highly unlikely you’d catch the virus from your cat or even pass it onto others, you should always wash your hands after touching an infected cat.
Can chlamydia be prevented?
While vaccination is possible it’s not widely recommended in some countries such as the UK. Depending on your area you could always ask the vet. Apart from that there are no other ways of preventing a cat from getting chlamydia.
Thankfully, it’s easy treated and there are very few fatalities. Occasionally, an infected cat may get complications such as pneumonia, but modern medicine can treat this. It’s important you don’t let things get this far though. Keep an eye on your cat if she develops any unusual symptoms. Whether chlamydia or any other condition, the sooner you get treatment the better.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)