Older cats are sometimes more susceptible to illness than younger ones are. However, if they do get sick, the prognosis can still be good. With proper veterinary treatment and a little TLC, older cats can recover from bacterial infections.
Upper Respiratory Infection
One form of bacterial infection in cats is an upper respiratory infection. It can make older cats and kittens seriously ill. Symptoms include grunting sounds or difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and blood in mucus.
Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic if your cat has an upper respiratory infection. You can help by keeping your cat warm, dry and hydrated. Keep him inside, and run a vaporizer to keep his bronchial tubes moistened. If they get too dry, bacteria can enter them and they can constrict.
Cats eat by smell, and when they have upper respiratory infections they can't smell as well. Feeding your cat canned food will encourage him to continue eating and will help keep him hydrated.
Feline Bacterial Skin Infections
Another form of bacterial infection a cat might have is a skin infection. It usually occurs when something else causes itching that prompts the cat to scratch. This, in turn, introduces microbes into the skin, causing the infection.
Feline skin infections are treated with a number of antibiotics, depending on the bacteria. Minor infections are treated with topical antibiotics, but more serious ones require oral antibiotics. Severe infections can require eight to 12 weeks of treatment.
In addition to giving your cat his antibiotic regularly and as instructed, you can help by keeping the infected area clean. If your cat has long hair, you should keep it clipped around the infected area, especially in cases of deep infections.
Feline Uterine Infection
Feline uterine infection occurs in females who have not been spayed. It has been seen in cats as young as 5, but it typically occurs in those 7 years old or older. It occurs when the uterus does not clean itself properly after a heat cycle, allowing bacterial infections to begin. This leads to the development of pus. Along with the bacteria, it can leak through the uterus and into the bloodstream, becoming toxic.
Symptoms include low energy, loss of appetite, unusual smell, avoidance of being touched, excessive thirst and urination, a firm, and distended abdomen, and a reddish-yellow sticky discharge. The only treatment for this condition is spaying to remove the infected uterus.
You can help by giving any medications prescribed and following your vet's instructions precisely. Keep your newly spayed cat as quiet and still as possible and away from other cats. It's very important to prevent her from licking or chewing at the incision, to prevent stitches being pulled out or the introduction of bacteria that could cause further infection. Finally, check the incision daily to ensure it's healing.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Many bacterial infections can be prevented before they begin. Having your female cat spayed at a young age is likely to prevent feline uterine infection altogether. Keeping your cat vaccinated can prevent upper respiratory infections at any age. Regular flea prevention at all ages can prevent the itching and scratching that cause bacterial skin infections.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Leslie Carver has been a professional author since 2009. Her work appears on multiple websites. She has an associate's degree in English with progress toward her bachelor's at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has been awarded an Outstanding Student Award in English and twice nominated for creative writing awards.