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E. Coli Infection in Cats



As colibacillosis is an acute condition, most affected kittens need to be hospitalized for emergency treatment. Good nursing care is required, with balanced fluids administrated by injection to restore body fluids. To treat diarrhea, a glucose solution will be administrated by mouth. Antibiotics can be prescribed initially based on the observed symptoms, and may be changed, if necessary, according to the results of the bacterial culture and sensitivity testing of E. coli.


Unfortunately, because of a newborn kitten's undeveloped immune system, treatment is often not successful and the newborn may succumb to death rapidly. Therefore, prompt treatment and supportive care is essential for saving the kitten's life.


Living and Management


Restricted activity, cage rest, monitoring, and warmth should be provided during the recovery period. To maintain an adequate nutritional level, bottle feeding or intravenous nutrients may be advised. This is necessary if the mother's mammary glands or blood are infected. Otherwise, it is preferable to have the kittens drinking their own mother's milk in order to benefit from the antibody rich milk.


During the recovery period, your veterinarian will take blood samples to run bacterial blood culture testing to determine the status of the infection. Home care will involve monitoring your kitten's body temperature and watching for any changes in health so that you can contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance. Once your kitten has stabilized and is out of danger, further treatment will depend on how the kitten progresses.




To prevent E. coli infection, make sure that your breeding, pregnant, or nursing queen is in good health and nutritional status. The birthing environment should be kept clean and sanitized, and bedding should be replaced frequently after the birthing (the linens that were used for the birthing should be discarded in a sanitary manner, as in most states they are considered hazardous waste material).


The most important safeguard for preventing E. coli infection in kittens is to allow them full access to their mother's colostrum (the first milk after birth). In addition, you must always wash your hands and change your outer clothing and shoes before dealing with newborn kittens in deference to their developing immune system. This is a general rule, but is especially important after handling other cats or animals. 

Image: Sarah Fields Photography


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