Antibiotics that are prescribed to your cat operate in the same manner as the ones you might take yourself: the medications fight fungal and bacterial infections.
Antibiotics can perform in two ways. They can either kill the microorganism causing infections, or they can stop the growth of the microorganisms. Of course, as with antibiotics for a person, choosing the correct antibiotic to treat your cat’s infection is a very important step. Your vet will know which antibiotic to prescribe, as well as the required dosage.
And, as with your own antibiotics, cats need to take the entire course of the medication; when cats stop taking the antibiotic before its course is complete, drug-resistant bacteria can develop. Further, your cat’s own infection might not be completely resolved, even though the symptoms have gone away.
When Are They Needed?
For cats, antibiotics are typically necessary for ear and eye infection, urinary tract infections, and respiratory infections.
How Are Antibiotics Given?
Antibiotics are most typically prescribed as pills or ointments, although sometimes antibiotics are available as an injection, typically given subcutaneously. Ointments are typically needed for skin- or eye-related infections, and need to be applied to the infected area. Giving cats pills can be a challenge, since they are not generally eager to take the medication. Open your cat’s mouth quickly and place the pill in the back, waiting until the pill is swallowed to let the cat go. To help the medicine go down easier, a treat is a nice way to finish off this uncomfortable experience for your cat.
Risks and Side Effects of Antibiotics
Cat’s antibiotics can be accompanied by a wide variety of side effects, which vary depending on the particular antibiotic that has been prescribed. Some of the most commonly spotted side effects that occur because of antibiotics are:
If this list of potential side effects looks scary, don’t be too worried. In most cases, the benefits of using antibiotics outweigh the side effects dramatically. Not all cats will experience all, or even any of these side effects.
- Rash or allergy
- Kidney or liver damage
- Diarrhea, vomiting and other stomach- and digestion-related problems
- For antibiotics that are injected, an infection can develop by the injection point
When Antibiotics Do Not Work:
There are a few different reasons why antibiotics might not be effective at treating your cat’s infection:
Different Types of Antibiotics:
- Wound cleanliness - If the wound isn’t fully clean, the antibiotics can have trouble penetrating and performing their task. Think of it this way: you’d clean your own cuts and scrapes carefully before putting an antibacterial cream on.
- Incorrect medication - It can sometimes be difficult, even for veterinarians, to know the correct antibiotic for the infection at hand. If an infection doesn’t clear up after the antibiotic has been taken for its full cycle, it can be a sign that the infection is a slightly different one than the vet initially thought, and a different medication is required.
- Drug-resistant infection -- Some infections are drug-resistant, and antibiotics cannot attack or suppress the microorganisms causing the problem.
- Incorrect dosage -- An incorrect dosage, either with medication that’s too strong or too weak, can get in the way of your cat’s treatment.
The types of antibiotics that are most commonly prescribed to cats are:
- Amoxicillin -- Probably the most commonly prescribed antibiotic, amoxicillin treats bacterial infections.
- Doxycycline -- Like amoxicillin, doxycycline is also used to fight off bacterial infections.
- Cephalexin -- This is most often used to treat skin infections.
- Clindamycin -- This drug is used to treat oral and dental infections or abcesses.
- Orbifloxacin -- This drug works by killing bacteria, and can be used for treatment of many types of infections, including urinary tract infections and skin infections.
- Clavamox -- This antibiotic can be used to treat respiratory infections and urinary tract infections in cats.
- Baytril -- This antiobiotic can also be used to treat urinary tract infections in cats.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
More on Medications for Pets
Antibiotics for Dogs
Treating Dog and Cat Pain with NSAIDs
Comparing Heartworm Medications