Salmonella in cats: how to recognize the symptoms and treat it

Salmonella in cats is an infection generated by bacteria, of which it is essential to recognize the symptoms and causes in order to know how and when to intervene to treat it.

In this article, we will learn the causes and to recognize the symptoms with which this infectious disease can occur, which can also lead to serious consequences for our feline friends and for us.

What is salmonella or salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis is a food-borne infection generated by bacteria belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family that live in the intestinal tract of animals and humans. Even if the probability of salmonellosis in feline species is low, it is still essential to recognize it in time due to its severity and the strong possibility of transmitting it to humans.

Salmonella bacteria are found mostly in poultry, cattle and pigs, eggs, milk, as well as water from rivers and ponds, fruit and vegetables. Consequently, the wrong use of these foods is a source of infection.

Salmonellosis can be transmittedby direct ingestion of these raw foods, from the cat or because it can come into contact with raw foods or contaminated surfaces, but also through processed foods, if they are not adequately preserved and exposed to insects or poor sanitary conditions and then lean on the hands and then get to the mouth.

This bacterium is resistant to the pH of the cat’s stomach, bile salts and peristalsis, establishes itself in the small intestine and invades the mesenteric lymph nodes, causing a localized infection. The intracellular defenses are not able to destroy it and it goes to the blood producing a systemic infection and being able to localize itself in the liver, spleen, etc.

Salmonella symptoms in cats

Salmonella is eliminated through the fecesbut having a high resistance it is necessary to pay particular attention if our cat has access to the outside and come into contact with contaminated feces and find himself in circumstances that lead to toxic infection. It should also be noted that there are asymptomatic cats carrying bacteria, being a constant source of infection.

Salmonella can also be transmitted by air, when invasion of the tonsils and lungs occurs. Young and immunosuppressed cats are more susceptible to infections.

Symptoms of salmonella in cats usually begin to be visible within 12 hours or up to 3 days after ingesting the bacteria, however, the feline may go up to 4-7 days without treatment. The most frequent symptoms are:

  • vomits
  • diarrhea
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • fever
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • dehydration
  • apathy
  • shock
  • Chronic intermittent diarrhea of ​​the large intestine

Diagnosis and therapy

Other diseases that exhibit  similar symptoms such as a metabolic, nutritional disease, cat tumor, other infectious agent involved, etc. need to be considered.

To accurately assess the veterinarian will need to make a correct differential diagnosis by performing a series of complementary tests. The most accurate diagnosis will be made from the cat’s medical history where possible, a physical exam, faecal cytology, PCR and culture.

Until the results of the culture, according to the veterinarian’s prescription, treatment with antibiotics will be determined, in addition to symptomatic treatment (fluid therapy, antipyretics, anti-inflammatories, probiotics, etc.).

Can salmonella be prevented in cats?

As we have already mentioned, the best way is to avoid giving raw foods to the cat. If we want to feed the cat, in the most natural way possible, we recommend at least cooking the meat and fish before giving it to our furry friend, another option is to provide high quality non-raw but moist food (without cereals).

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