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Antibiotics for Cats

The Types and Uses of Antibiotics for Cats

By November 29, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian


Antibiotics for Cats

When your cat gets a bacterial or fungal infections, they are prescribed antibiotics. To find out more about what the vet is giving your kitty, look here first.

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:

  • Rash or allergy
  • Fever
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and other stomach- and digestion-related problems
  • For antibiotics that are injected, an infection can develop by the injection point

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.

When Antibiotics Do Not Work:

There are a few different reasons why antibiotics might not be effective at treating your cat’s infection:

  • 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.

Different Types of Antibiotics

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.


It seems as though my cat may have a UTI. Any suggestions of how to keep him comfortable until i can get him to the vet tomorrow morning?


My cat was in a cat fight, he has developed a pus pocket that didn't drain out and is getting bigger what can I do for him .


Probably respiratory infection w the sneezimg... my cats going thru it now. Go get it an antibiotic asap


If it's just basic "Amoxi-Caps" and not a time release type (most of the Amoxi that you get from your vet is just the plain kind)... it's perfectly fine to put the powder into some food. Use whatever tasty food your dog likes. (Yes, I am aware that the OP posted this a long time ago and hopefully her dog is good as gold now. I'm posting this info to help others with the same question)

You can also hide the entire capsule in a piece of hot dog or cheese, or even a wad of peanut butter. Most dogs love peanut butter, and the PB sticks really well to pills and capsules. This makes it much harder for the dog to lap the pill away from the food treat without actually swallowing the pill. Sticky cheese works well, and even real butter-- not icky margarine-- is great for hiding small pills.

There are also Pill Pockets made just for giving pills. These are soft hollow treats that you can use to wrap/hide pills. They're pretty tasty, and most dogs take them pretty readily.

There are also Pill Pockets for cats, and these work some of the time, often enough that it's worth trying. But cats can be more challenging to medicate, and they get real wise to it when we try to hide medicine in their food. If they sense that the food is "doped", they will avoid it and may stop eating altogether. Thus it is NOT a good idea to hide your cat's medicine in his food unless he's already pretty good about taking it. I do put a joint supplement powder in my cat's breakfast, but she would eat the powder bare anyway. I just mix it so that the doesn't have to eat a dry powder, LOL!


My cat stopped eating and drinking she has never been sick before what might be her problem she has been sneezing but that is about she has not pooped or ate or drank anything. I am giving her water with a syringe to keep her hydrated but she is losing wait could having worms she might have gotten from another feline be her problem


My dog is being treated for Lyme with Amoxicillin. He hides the capsule, then crushes it and spits it out. Would it be ok to open the capsule, mix with applesauce or a little watered down dog food and plunge it down his throat. Never sure if capsules can be opened & used this way since dome are time release. he is on 250 mg twice a day. Thanks

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