E. Coli Infection Average Cost

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What is E. Coli Infection?

Healthy adult cats rarely experience issues related to E. coli, but kittens, older cats or those with compromised immune systems can become sick when exposed to the bacteria. The presence of pathogenic E. coli can make cats critically ill in several different ways. For example, the majority of feline urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by E. coli. Certain strains of E. coli generate gastrointestinal problems. Intact female cats can develop the uterine infection pyometra, and newborn kittens can suffer from an extremely serious form of E. coli infection called colibacillosis.

Escherichia coli, abbreviated as E. coli, is a bacterium that is common in the lower gastrointestinal tract of most mammals, including humans and cats. There are hundreds of different strains of E. coli, and the majority of them are not dangerous. E. coli is known to cause problems, however, when it enters parts of the body where it does not belong, or when a harmful strain of the bacterium is introduced to the system. Cats with E. coli infection can exhibit a variety of symptoms including lack of appetite, vomiting, urinary distress, excessive thirst, and fever. Because E. coli is a bacterial infection, and also because symptoms of illness caused by E. coli can vary greatly, laboratory tests are required in order to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Symptoms of E. Coli Infection in Cats

E. coli causes different types of infections, and symptoms will vary based on the strain and location of bacteria involved. 

Urinary tract infection

E. coli is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of UTIs in cats. Typical symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Pain while urinating (sometimes indicated by vocalization)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Fever


  • This type of E. coli infection is often caused by ingesting contaminated food, causing symptoms such as:
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, sometimes with blood


A disorder of intact females, pyometra is a uterine infection that usually occurs after a heat cycle that did not result in pregnancy. Symptoms can be difficult to spot, but may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Distended abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive panting


A condition seen in newborn kittens, colibacillosis is characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms including:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Low body temperature
  • Dehydration

Causes of E. Coli Infection in Cats

While all E. coli infections are caused by an overgrowth of pathogenic strains of the bacteria, each manifestation of the disease has its own method of transmission. 

With UTIs, introduction of bacteria from the anus to the urinary tract is often thought to be caused by the routine act of a cat performing normal grooming, such as licking one spot and then the next. While this does not generally cause a problem, the bacteria may grow beyond normal proportions in older cats with weaker immunity, or those with underlying diseases.

Gastrointestinal E. coli can usually be traced to the ingestion of undercooked or raw foods. Outdoor cats who hunt and eat prey are particularly prone, but commercial pet foods are sometimes to blame. Raw meat diets can also be problematic, and many veterinarians warn against feeding raw meat.

Pyometra occurs when there is a bacterial overgrowth in the uterus triggered by hormonal changes. Pyometra has been known to arise even when no external source of exposure can be identified.

Newborn kittens sometimes develop colibacillosis after E. coli exposure, which can occur in a number of ways:

  • In utero (in the womb) via bacteria in the mother's system
  • During birth from bacteria in the birth canal
  • While nursing from infected mammary glands
  • When housed in unsanitary conditions

Diagnosis of E. Coli Infection in Cats

If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of an E. coli infection, you should consider it a medical emergency and get your cat to your veterinarian immediately. Diagnosing E. coli infection requires laboratory tests, and time is of the essence. 

Your veterinarian will ask you to describe any symptoms that you have observed, and will need all of the history that you can provide. If your cat is female, the vet will want to know if she is spayed, pregnant, or nursing kittens. You may be asked whether your cat lives indoors or outdoors, what it eats, whether it is on any type of medication and for what condition. Your vet will perform a physical examination, including palpating your cat's abdomen to check for distended or thickened membranes of the intestines, uterus or bladder. Laboratory tests will be conducted to check for the presence of bacteria and to screen for potential underlying diseases. These tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal exam
  • Vaginal swab
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound

Two additional steps that your veterinarian is likely to take to ensure an accurate diagnosis and eventual treatment are:

  • Bacterial culture to confirm the presence and type of bacteria
  • Antibiotic sensitivity test to find which antibiotic is most effective against the isolated bacteria

The last two steps are key, both because different types of bacteria besides E. coli can cause infection, and because some bacteria, including E. coli, are becoming resistant to certain strains of antibiotics. 

Treatment of E. Coli Infection in Cats

Many cases of E. coli infection can be treated on an outpatient basis, with follow-up visits to check progress.


Regardless of the location of the infection and the type of illness involved, antibiotics are the universal treatment choice. Simple infections require a normal course of antibiotics lasting 10 to 14 days. Complicated infections may need antibiotic treatment for up to six weeks.

Additional Treatments

More serious cases may require hospitalization, especially with very young kittens. Supportive therapies and additional procedures may be necessary, such as:

  • IV fluids for dehydration and hypoglycemia
  • Monitoring of body temperature to avoid hypothermia
  • Hand feeding or bottle feeding in place of nursing

Recovery of E. Coli Infection in Cats

Ensuring your cat receives the full schedule of antibiotic treatment is critical. Stopping the medication too soon could result in a recurrence of the illness, or worse, contribute to antibiotic resistance. If the infection is a case of pyometra, spaying the intact female is urged. Cats with UTIs may need a prescription diet, and they should be encouraged to drink as much as possible, since more frequent urination will help keep bacteria flushed from the bladder and urinary tract. Outdoor cats with gastrointestinal E. coli should be brought indoors to eliminate the killing and eating prey, and raw meat should be avoided as a food source.

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up visits to repeat some of the lab tests after the antibiotics have been administered to ensure that the bacteria is out of your cat's system.

E. Coli Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

7 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


My male Burmese cat is 7 years old, we left him in care for 5 weeks while on holiday and when we returned he got very sick. Many vet visits, medication and thousands of dollars later he was diagnosed with an e-coli infection. For a period of three months he is given antibiotics twice a day and just when he seems to be back to full health he suddenly reverts back to urinating mucus textured blood.
I’m trying him on Greek yoghurt for the probiotics what are your thoughts and/or recommendations please

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1971 Recommendations
If Archie has a long term E. coli infection (or suspected infection), it may be worth having culture and sensitivity testing done to determine whether the antibiotics being given are effective or if there is a more suitable antibiotics which hasn’t been tried yet. Sometimes, antibiotics will suppress an infection but not cure it; once antibiotic treatment stops the infection flares up again. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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8 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used


My cat started getting diarrhoea so I took her to the vets, we tried her on a couple of different antibiotics but nothing seemed to work, so they suggested sending off a faecal sample for culture and sensitivity. The test came back as her having haemolytic e.coli and that she was resistant to quite a few antibiotics. They have now started her on marbocyl injections for 10days, but she has nearly completed the course and she still has runny diarrhoea, does she need a longer course or is there something else that would help her? She’s had diarrhoea for quite some time now, luckily she is still well in herself, eating drinking ok etc

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
476 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining her or seeing her test results, I can't comment on whether the course of antibiotics needs to be extended or if she needs another therapy. You would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, let them know that she is still having diarrhea, and see what the next course of action might be. If she isn't on probiotics during all of this, that may help to re-establish healthy bacteria, as might a prescription GI diet, as the gut can take time to heal after chronic insults. Your veterinarian would be able to suggest a diet and a probiotic if she isn't currently on those things. I hope that her problem resolves soon!

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8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

I have a domestic short haired cat, Tiki, who came down with intractable diarrhea about 6 - 8 months ago. We ran every test imaginable and EVERYTHING came back normal; no parasites, no infection, nothing. But Tiki had lost about half her body weight (she was down to 6 pounds 2 ounces) and was SO sick I was considering putting her down because we couldn't determine what the problem was. In August, I took Tiki to see a holistic veterinarian who discovered that there was a condition that usually affected Boxer puppies where the body had an adverse reaction to it's own E-coli bacteria. By talking to a pathologist at a lab, we discovered that Baytril was an antibiotic that would help. Tiki was started on Baytril (Enrofolxacin) in August. The dose is 3/4 of tab of 22.7 mg Baytril daily. The turn around was remarkable. Tiki regained her appetite and started putting on weight almost immediately. Sounds like a happy ending, however, when we try to wean her off of the Baytril, the diarrhea returns within a week - 10 days. Any thoughts as to what might be going on?? Tiki eats wet and dry food and I have converted to grain free foods thinking it might be some kind of food allergy. Thanks in advance for any input you can provide.

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
476 Recommendations
Thank you for your question. I am sorry that Tiki is having these problems. I'm not sure what condition that your holistic veterinarian was describing. If it was responding to Baytril initially, it may need to longer course of medications - it would be a great question for either your regular veterinarian, or the holistic veterinarian , to see what the course of medications should be. I hope that Tiki does okay.

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5 yrs old
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Yes I just recently as of a week ago had my Black Bombay 5 yr old Male Cat at the vet for his yearly physical and rabies shot etc - but just recently started smelling some pneumonia in his urine out of the litter box is there something I should give him to help clear that up or what is your advice?.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1971 Recommendations
The two most common causes for ammonia smelling urine are concentrated urine (due to dehydration) or a urinary tract infection; it would be best to make sure that you are regularly cleaning out the litter box, ensuring that Ace is hydrated (mix water with some wet food to encourage hydration), but if this still doesn’t solve the problem visit your Veterinarian for urinalysis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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domestic short hair
13 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Runny Nose
Weight Loss
Eye Discharge
Excessive Thirst
Difficulty Breathing

This is the first time she has ever been sick. My cat was diagnosed with Escherichia coli and was given antibiotic injection but she is still sick after months of antibiotics and never retested. She also had two other infections which caused her to have green runny nose and eye discharge. I am concerned for they want to do x-rays now and put her under but she is still sick. She also was getting ear infections and has been getting a lot of ear wax build up.But no more ear infections What should I do?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1971 Recommendations

If Sheba continues to be sick and is displaying more clinical signs, I would recommend you have a culture and sensitivity test done; this would identify the specific type of E. coli and would also detect the best antibiotic to fight the infection. In a sick cat Sheba’s age, I would prefer (personal opinion) to not anesthetise her but to perform the x-ray using manual restraining methods with light sedation (a few specially designed sandbags and other equipment); although it can be stressful, the amount of time required is short. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

How is sheba doing? What specific antibiodic was she previously on?

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