What exactly is chlamydia in cats and what does it have to do with feline conjunctivitis? Is Chlamydia in Cats Similar to Chlamydia in Humans? Chlamydia in cats is a respiratory disease that is generally transmitted through contact with other cats. This condition is more common in young kittens and usually begins with conjunctivitis , an abnormal discharge from the eyes due to inflammation of the inside of the eyelid and the whites of the eye.
Is Chlamydia in Cats the Same as Chlamydia in Humans?
Although chlamydia in humans is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), it is not related to sexual activity in cats. Chlamydia in cats is a form of feline upper respiratory disease, and those with a chlamydial infection will also have a viral upper respiratory infection such as calicivirus or herpesvirus.
It is important for a veterinarian to give an accurate diagnosis of chlamydia in cats, as its symptoms are similar to other conditions (more on this later).
Which cats are most likely to get chlamydia?
Chlamydia in cats is most common in multi-cat or closed-down households, such as breeding facilities, shelters, and foster homes.
Infections are most common in purebred cats , kittens under one year of age, cats with compromised immune systems, and those that tend to be easily stressed by changes in their environment.
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Chlamydia in cats is usually more serious in kittens, who acquire chlamydia from direct contact with the sneeze or cough of an infected animal, or even during the birthing process .
Fortunately, indirect contact through the environment or handling is not as likely to transmit the infection because bacteria cannot survive long outside of a kitten or cat’s body.
Chlamydia symptoms in cats
The incubation period for chlamydia in cats is three to 10 days , and again, conjunctivitis is the predominant sign. Other symptoms of chlamydia in cats include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Yellowish green mud in the eyes.
- A runny nose
Chlamydia signs in cats can last up to several weeks, and the cat’s weakened immune system can also cause secondary symptoms.
Treatment and prevention of chlamydia in cats
Tests are required for a definitive diagnosis because chlamydia in cats is not the only cause of conjunctivitis or the symptoms mentioned above. Sick cats generally respond to antibiotics and will likely have to stay on them for three to four weeks.
In households with multiple cats, it may be recommended that they all be treated simultaneously due to the contagious nature of chlamydia in cats. In rare cases, people can also develop conjunctivitis as a result and require treatment as well. The best prevention is to wash your hands after handling a cat with conjunctivitis.
Based on what was mentioned above, Thomas Kern, DVM, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, says, “ Although conjunctivitis can occur in older cats , this is an infection that occurs mainly in young animals. It is most prevalent in kennels and other multi-cat settings. In the course of their development, young cats can contract a virus or bacteria from an older cat. And, like children, they play together and spend it. Sooner or later, everyone gets it.
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