Clostridium perfringens in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Clostridium perfringens in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Clostridium perfringens in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Clostridium perfringens?

Clostridium perfringens enterotoxicosis in cats is a complex syndrome that causes spontaneous diarrhea in felines. Experts estimate that nearly 15-20 percent of all feline diarrhea cases are Clostridium perfringens related. Clostridium perfringens is a bacterial infection of the intestines with which most cats develop long-term clinical symptoms of diarrhea and clinical signs associated with gastrointestinal disease. Any cat can be affected the bacteria, but Clostridium perfringens is poorly understood, leaving veterinarians unaware of the exact cause for the bacterial overgrowth. Cat owners will notice spontaneous diarrhea lasting from a couple days to a few weeks, which leads to life-threatening dehydration that must be addressed by a veterinary professional. 

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Clostridium perfringens Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Clostridium perfringens in Cats

Clinical cases of Clostridium perfringens in cats is associated with acute diarrhea lasting for about five to seven days. Chronic cases of Clostridium perfringens in cats, however, is characterized by intermittent episodes of diarrhea recurring about every four to six weeks. A chronic case of this intestinal disease could persist over a month’s time or several years. Common symptoms of a cat affected by Clostridium perfringens includes: 

  • Acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (intestinal inflammation paired with blood in the stomach) 
  • Mucus-covered stools 
  • Bright red blood covered stools 
  • Watery stools 
  • Tenesmus (straining to defecate) 
  • Hematochezia (blood upon the passage of a bowel movement) 
  • Flatulence (passing gas) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal discomfort  
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Causes of Clostridium perfringens in Cats

It is unclear whether Clostridium perfringens is a healthy bacterium normally found within the intestine of the feline, which simply overgrows due to certain conditions, or Clostridium perfringens is an infectious bacteria. Researchers have found the Clostridium perfringens widely distributed within the soil, but it is unknown whether the bacteria thrives in the environment or was shed through mammalian feces. Veterinarians have been able to link the bacterial infection to certain conditions, such as stress, which brings experts to believe  Clostridium perfringens is an opportunistic pathogen. A pathogen that is characterized as an opportunistic pathogen does not cause harm to a healthy feline, but can inflict harm if the feline’s immune system becomes unbalanced. 

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Diagnosis of Clostridium perfringens in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin the diagnostic process with a review of your cat’ medical history and a physical examination. In the case of Clostridium perfringens, your feline may appear to have abdominal discomfort upon palpation of the abdomen during the physical examination. The symptoms associated with Clostridium perfringens are rather vague as, intestinal complications can be the clinical sign for a variety of underlying causes. Therefore, your veterinarian will likely discuss any changes in your cat’s diet as well as run a fecal examination to detect the presence of internal parasites. A fecal examination proves ineffective for detecting Clostridium perfringens as only the enterotoxins produced by Clostridium are a true diagnosis of this bacterial infection. Your veterinarian will likely conduct a cell cytology assay and ELISA test on the feline’s blood samples, combined with an anaerobic culture. A PCR test which is used to distinguish strains of non-toxigenic agents from toxigenic strains may also be completed. 

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Treatment of Clostridium perfringens in Cats

The majority of feline patients diagnosed with Clostridium perfringens are treated as outpatients, but if the feline’s diarrhea has caused severe dehydration, a short hospitalization period may be required to supplement with fluid therapy. All activities will be restricted during your cat’s recovery time and a diet high in fiber will likely be advised. High fiber diets reduce the number of Clostridial bacteria, while acidifying the inner intestine, which will reduce the growth of intestinal bacteria. An antibiotic medication may not be necessary, but chronic cases of Clostridium perfringens in cats may be prescribed antibiotic therapy. 

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Recovery of Clostridium perfringens in Cats

The majority of felines respond very well to therapy against Clostridium perfringens, but chronic cases may require long-term control of bacterial growth. Your cat will likely remain on a high fiber diet unless the feline remains stable without dietary changes. A clean and stress-free environment can help to prevent Clostridium perfringens from recurring or overgrowing to a point of causing intestinal disease. 

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Clostridium perfringens Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Clostridium perfringens Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Rocky

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DOMESTIC

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1 Year

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Soft Stools

Are cats able to transmit Clostridium perfringens to other cats in the home by using the same litter Boxes? What is the best way to disinfect the litter boxes during and after their course of antibiotics to prevent reinfection? I have 3 cats, one recently adopted in Dec who has known C-Perf. All cats have with soft stools and have been put on a 14 day course of metronidazole.

March 7, 2018

Rocky's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Cats can be asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium perfringens and symptoms may display after a dietary change, stress among other factors; however, cats may become infected from sharing litter trays etc… You should clean out the litter tray after each defecation and disinfect the tray and change litter as often as possible; I would leave a small quantity of litter in the tray and replace, repeat. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 7, 2018

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Tiggy

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domestic short hair

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6 Months

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Can Clostridium perfringens be passed on to humans? If so how do I keep my family safe from getting it? We just adopted a new kitten from a rescue and he had diarrhea on and off and then started having it multiple times a day, Vet says its Clostridium perfringens.

Feb. 8, 2018

Tiggy's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria which is commonly found in nature including the gastrointestinal tract of healthy humans (it all depends on the strain); it is one of those bacteria which may not do anything or may cause severe illness. Generally keeping good hygiene (cleaning litter tray regularly), wiping around the anus after defecation and washing your hands after petting is all it needs. If there was a severe risk of infection your Veterinarian would have informed you but common sense goes a long way. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 8, 2018

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Clostridium perfringens Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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