Wiki Toolbox

Cat Bordetellosis

From Pet Health Learning Center

Jump to: navigation, search

Cat Bordetellosis

Ever heard of something called kennel cough in dogs, or Dog Coughs? Feline bordetellosis is often known as the "kennel cough of felines" and can spread like wildfire among cats who live closely together. As the name implies, it can include a hacking, wheezing cough (among other symptoms).

Cat owners should not assume their felines are safe because shots are not automatically given for feline bordetellosis. If a cat visits a home full of other cats or comes into contact with feral or wild cats, there is a risk of contracting the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Anyone who obtains a cat from a humane society, pound, pet store or shelter should consider the possibility that it may have contracted feline bordetellosis. It is important to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of this disease. It is especially common when many cats are kept together, since it only takes one sick cat to spread the disease and it is easily transmitted from one feline to another. Vaccines are available so owners of newly acquired cats might want to play it safe and have their pets vaccinated.

What clues can let cat owners know their cat might have feline bordetellosis? First of all, it is vital to understand that this affects the upper respiratory system, so if a cat is having problems with other areas of their body, another condition may be to blame. Kittens are especially susceptible to this disease and can succumb quickly if not properly diagnosed.


A simple medical swab of the nose can be enough to provide diagnosis. Meanwhile, owners should watch for such signs as runny or swollen noses, dripping discharges from the eyes and nose, feverishness, weakness and even vomiting.

While Cat Coughs, or coughing, may also be present, it is not wise to make the mistake of assuming that a cough must be present for feline bordetellosis to exist in a cat. Not all cats actually cough and when they do, it may not be particularly noisy. The coughing may be combined with vomiting, making it hard to distinguish an actual coughing sound. Pet owners who have had cats for a long time, or bought them from reputable breeders, should take heart in knowing that the chance of their cat having feline bordetellosis is pretty slim to none.

The vast majority of infected cats do come from breeders or pet "factories" where hygiene is definitely not a priority. For this reason, it is extremely important to make sure that a cat with feline bordetellosis does not share food or water dishes with any other pets inside the home. It is also critical to know that very young kittens can die extremely quickly from this disease. Antibiotics may not be enough to save them, especially if they are under six weeks of age.


What if a new cat exposes other cats in a home to feline bordetellosis? Feline owners need to realize that even after treatment a cat may carry the bacteria for several months. This puts all cats at continued risk. For this reason, it is important to make sure all cats in the home are given antibiotics at the same time and are all treated together.

Finally, never put a cat in a boarding facility where there has been a recent outbreak of feline bordetellosis - even if the outbreak took place months ago. Stay on the safe side and make sure reputable boarders who practice strict hygiene are the only ones you use when you cat has to be boarded for any reason.

Ask an Expert


Dr. Janice Huntingford

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Customer Service

1 877 633-2401

Live chat by BoldChat

Click to verify BBB accreditation and to see a BBB report.

90 day money back guarantee