Mycoplasma in Cats: Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Mycoplasma in Cats

Mycoplasma in Cats: Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that can infect cats. These microscopic organisms lack a cell wall and can sometimes act like viruses. Mycoplasma infections often cause respiratory or eye problems in felines.

How is Mycoplasma transmitted?

Mycoplasma bacteria are spread through direct contact with infected saliva, mucus, or respiratory droplets from a sick cat. Cats in close quarters, such as shelters or boarding facilities, are at higher risk of exposure. The incubation period is usually 3 to 14 days from exposure.

Signs Your Cat May Have Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma in Cats

If your cat has been around other kitties recently and now has:

  • Nasal discharge: Excessive sneezing, nasal discharge, runny nose or congestion. The discharge may be clear, bloody or contain pus.
  • Eye inflammation: Squinting, eye redness, swelling or discharge. Mycoplasma can cause conjunctivitis “pinkeye” and other eye infections in cats.
  • Lethargy: Seeming more tired, less playful or irritable. Fever, loss of appetite and weight loss may also occur.
  • Coughing: Especially a dry, hacking cough. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop. See your vet right away if your cat’s coughing is frequent or they seem very ill.

The only way to confirm a Mycoplasma infection is through diagnostic testing. Your vet can test nasal or eye discharge samples to determine appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics, eye medications, and supportive care. With prompt treatment, most cats recover fully from Mycoplasma. Be sure to isolate any infected cats from other pets in the meantime to avoid spreading infection.

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Diagnosing Mycoplasma Infections in Cats

Diagnosing Mycoplasma infections in cats involves several tests to determine the cause and severity of symptoms. The most common signs of a Mycoplasma infection are:

  • Respiratory problems: Coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing
  • Eye discharge: Watery, pus-filled or swollen eyes
  • Lethargy and decreased appetite
  • Fever

To diagnose Mycoplasma in cats, your vet will first do a physical exam. They will check for symptoms like raspy breathing sounds, eye irritation, and fever. They may order blood tests to check for increased white blood cell count, indicating infection.

The most definitive way to diagnose Mycoplasma is through laboratory testing of discharge samples. Your vet will use swabs to collect eye, nasal, or respiratory discharge and send it to the lab for analysis. A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test can detect Mycoplasma DNA and determine which species is present. Culture tests can also be done, where the discharge is added to a growth medium in an attempt to culture and isolate the Mycoplasma bacteria.

In severe or chronic cases, further diagnostics like x-rays, bronchoscopy or rhinoscopy may be recommended to assess damage. These procedures use imaging and scopes to view the respiratory tract and airways. They can help determine appropriate treatment based on how far the infection has spread.

Early diagnosis and treatment of Mycoplasma infections is critical, especially in young kittens or immunocompromised cats. If your cat is showing symptoms, contact your vet right away for an exam and to discuss testing options. While Mycoplasma can usually be managed well with antibiotics and supportive care, quick intervention helps prevent long-term damage and improves your cat’s prognosis.

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Treatment Options for Mycoplasma Infections

Once mycoplasma has been diagnosed in your cat, there are a few treatment options available. The course of treatment will depend on the severity of your cat’s symptoms.

1. Antibiotics

The most common way to treat mycoplasma is with a round of antibiotics, usually doxycycline or azithromycin. These are usually given for 2 to 4 weeks to fully clear the infection. Be sure to give the medication as directed and finish the entire course to avoid antibiotic resistance. Your vet may need to try different antibiotics to find the most effective one for your cat’s infection.

2. Corticosteroids

If your cat has a severe upper respiratory infection from mycoplasma, corticosteroids like prednisone may be used to reduce inflammation. This can help open up airways and provide relief from symptoms as the antibiotics work to clear the infection. Corticosteroids are usually only needed for a short period of time.

3. Hospitalization

In rare, severe cases of mycoplasma pneumonia or in young kittens, hospitalization and intravenous (IV) fluids may be required. Hospitalization allows for intensive care like nebulization therapy to open airways, IV medication administration, and 24-hour monitoring. Most cats are able to go home within a few days as symptoms start to improve and they can eat, drink and breathe on their own.

4. Follow up

It’s important to have follow up vet checks after treatment to ensure the infection has fully cleared. Your vet may want to recheck your cat in 2 to 4 weeks. Let your vet know right away if symptoms do not start to improve within the first week of treatment or get worse at any point. Early and aggressive treatment of mycoplasma is key to preventing complications, so close monitoring and communication with your vet is essential.

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With prompt diagnosis and proper treatment, most cats will make a full recovery from mycoplasma infections. Be vigilant for any signs of recurring or new symptoms and schedule checkups with your vet regularly to help keep your cat happy and healthy.

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