Leptospirosis in Cats (May 2019)

Though this is a rare one, this type of bacterial infection is serious, can be potentially fatal, and spreads to other cats – even humans.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects both domestic and feral cats alike.

The infection enters the body through the skin and develops further within the central nervous system, reproductive system, liver, eyes, and the kidneys. The infection is able to get around the body through the cat’s bloodstream.

Cats with a strong immune system are often able to fight it off through the production of antibodies, but severe liver and kidney damage can occur if it isn’t fully eradicated.

Unfortunately, other animals can become infected if they’re around the infected cat. Humans who have weak immune systems, including young children and senior citizens, can become infected, as well.

What Causes Leptospirosis?

More often than not, cats become infected with it when they eat or drink from a source that contains Leptospira spirochete, which is what causes the infection. L. Pomona and L. grippotyphosa also cause the infection, as well.

Irrigated pastures, stagnant water from muddy or marshy areas, and tropical and subtropical climates are where cats usually become infected.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis

The following is a list of symptoms of leptospirosis in cats:

  • Weakness
  • Shivering
  • Sudden fever
  • Refusing to eat/lack of appetite
  • Anemic symptoms – yellow eye whites and/or skin
  • Dark, red gums with speckles
  • Reluctant to move around
  • Vaginal discharge with blood
  • Increase in thirst and urination/ dehydration, unable to urinate
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Depression
  • Irregular pulse – usually fast
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mild swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Stiff gait, legs, and muscles

This infection affects multiple areas of a cat’s body, but the symptoms tend to range based on how strong a cat’s immune system and their overall health, in general.

Treating Leptospirosis in Cats

To ensure your cat recovers fully, you need to work closely with the vet and create a strong treatment plan. Treating something like this at home is not possible on your own.

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