Feline chlamydiosis is an infection caused by a bacterial organism called Chlamydophila felis or C. felis. It is a particular bacterium as it reproduces only inside the animal’s cells, as opposed to all the other bacteria that live and reproduce outside. This disease is also commonly called pneumonia because it obstructs the entire respiratory tract, such as eyes, nose and throat, thus creating a fatal mix for the cat. The spread of the bacterium necessarily occurs by direct contact between one animal and another, because the bacterium does not survive outside.
The incubation period, that is the time in which the animal contracts the disease and when it manifests itself, ranges from 3 to 10 days. The most affected subjects are small kittens and unvaccinated young cats and the symptoms are those of a common rhinoconjunctivitis. The bacterium infects the membranes that line the eyelids and cover the edges of the eyeballs. In healthy cats, the conjunctiva is not easily visible and shows a pale salmon pink color. In cats with conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva becomes swollen and red.
Infected cats develop a watery eye discharge that becomes thicker and usually takes on a yellow or greenish color. Many cats may not develop the disease, while others have a fever and a cold. In adult cats the disease can cause infertility, while in kittens the succession of events will be fatal if not caught in time. The untreated and untreated cat will be a vector of infection for other cats.
Chlamydiosis can be difficult to diagnose as there are many causes of conjunctivitis and cats can have multiple infections at the same time.
In vitro culture and laboratory analysis will be required to recognize a bacterium. Sometimes, Chlamydophila organisms are seen on colored smears prepared from conjunctival scrapings. Another diagnostic option is a blood test to check for the presence of C. felis antibodies. All cats in the family, even living outside, are at risk of infection if an infected cat is present, so they will need to be treated even in the absence of symptoms. Sometimes even in humans being in direct contact with an infected animal could generate the infection of conjunctivitis.
Chlamydiosis can be successfully treated with a course of oral antibiotics. Only some types of antibiotics are able to penetrate the inner part of the cells where the organism C. felis resides. Treatment should last for a minimum of 4 weeks and for at least 10 days after the animal’s eyes have regained their normal appearance. Alternatively, drops or antibiotic cream are also fine. If you are able to treat the infection well until it is eradicated, there will be no recurrence cases.