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How to Spot and Treat Leptospirosis in Cats

How to Spot and Treat Leptospirosis in Cats

Our Clovis vets discuss leptospirosis in cats today. This is a bacterial spirochete infection caused by Leptospira interrogans. The vets will cover symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is Leptospirosis in Cats?

Leptospires spread throughout the body, affecting organs like the liver, kidneys, nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. It can be fatal if the liver or kidneys become infected and damaged.

Since it is a zoonotic disease, it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Infected pets can pass it to particularly susceptible children. Young cats with weak immune systems are at greater risk of severe consequences from the disease.

What are the Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Cats?

The symptoms of cat leptospirosis are numerous and varied. As such, it's incredibly important to see your veterinarian, or an urgent care vet, if you suspect your cat may have contracted the parasite.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden fever and illness
  • Sore or stiff muscles, legs, and/or gait and/or a reluctance to move
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination progressed into rapid dehydration and the inability to urinate.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea, possibly with blood
  • Bloody vaginal discharge for female cats
  • Dark red speckled gums
  • Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes
  • Spontaneous cough
  • Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, irregular pulse
  • Runny nose
  • Swelling of the mucous membrane or mild swelling of the lymph nodes

What Are The Potential Causes Of Leptospirosis in Cats?

Leptospira spirochete infection is more prevalent in subtropical, tropical, and moist regions. Domestic pets in the United States and Canada have seen an increase in infection rates, with fall being the most common season for illness.

Cats living near wooded areas, farms, and marshy/muddy areas with stagnant surface water are at greater risk of infection. Heavily irrigated pastures are also sources of infection due to the possibility of infected soil or mud. Additionally, cats can contract Leptospirosis from the urine of infected animals.

How Is Leptospirosis In Cats Diagnosed?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, so your veterinarian will carefully handle your cat, wearing latex gloves and treating all bodily fluids as hazardous materials.

They will ask for a complete health history, including symptoms and recent activities, to determine the stage of infection and which organs are affected.

Diagnostic tests will also be ordered to understand your cat's condition better.

Are There Any Treatment Options For Cats With Leptospirosis?

Fluid therapy is the primary treatment for dehydration, while antiemetic medication may be given for vomiting. A gastric tube can also provide nourishment if your cat has difficulty eating or keeping food down.

Antibiotics will be prescribed for at least four weeks, depending on the stage of infection. Penicillins treat initial infections, but other antibiotics may have adverse effects when used to eradicate the bacteria in advanced stages. 

Fortunately, the prognosis for recovery is typically good, except for cases with severe organ damage.

What Can I Expect After My Cat Has Treatment For Leptospirosis? 

Leptospires can be present in urine for several weeks after recovery from an infection, so appropriate handling techniques are crucial to prevent infection or reinfection. This involves using gloves to handle body excretions and disposing of them properly, along with feces and urine. Quarantining your pet after recovery may also benefit your vet, who can provide additional information.

Since Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that can spread easily to humans and other animals, getting tested is a good idea even if you, your family, and other pets feel well.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your cat is showing signs of Leptospirosis? Contact our Clovis vets immediately.

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New Patients Welcome

Family Pet Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health and well-being of Clovis dogs and cats. Contact us today to get started! 

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