What is Staph Infection?
Staphylococcus bacteria are also naturally present in humans, and a feline staph infection has a chance of spreading to humans. However, spread of the disease only occurs between organisms with weakened or compromised immune systems. Even so, good hygiene, particularly frequent hand washing, should be practiced as a preventative measure.
Staphylococcus bacteria are naturally present in the skin of cats. Staph infection may result when a cat becomes injured, suffers an allergic reaction in the skin (such as a flea infestation), or develops a weakened immune system for another reason. The opportunistic nature of the Staphylococcus bacteria may lead to it take advantage of a weakened immune system and cause infection.
Symptoms of Staph Infection in Cats
The symptoms of staph infection in cats may appear similar to those of ringworm. While cats are notorious for hiding illness from their owners, cats infected by Staphylococcus will almost always show symptoms. In any case, seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Circle or pimple-shaped lesions on the skin*
- Excessive itching or biting of inflamed skin
- Signs of pain
- Loss of appetite
- Evidence of infections in other parts of the body
*Do not touch any lesions on the skin with your bare hands, as there is a small chance the disease can spread to humans. Even though staph infection typically won’t spread through contact with a lesion, it may spread to individuals with a compromised immune system.
Causes of Staph Infection in Cats
The primary cause of staph infection in cats is a weakened immune system. Since the bacteria are already present in the body, they will not cause an infection unless they have an opportunity to.
Skin allergies are often a source of staph infection in cats. The disease may also be airborne or spread through consuming contaminated food. Staph infection may also develop when the cat scratches or licks at its skin excessively. Cats that are particularly young or old have a higher chance of developing a staph infection.
Diagnosis of Staph Infection in Cats
The vet can make a tentative diagnosis based on the appearance of the lesions and the presentation of symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of any skin allergies your cat has, as well as any recent flea infestations that may have caused the infection. The vet will make a tentative diagnosis by examining the lesion more closely, using a biopsy or bacterial culture. The vet may also take a skin scraping to rule out other infections as a cause. The vet must identify the underlying cause, or else the infection is likely to return following treatment.
Treatment of Staph Infection in Cats
Treatment of staph infection usually involves a course of antibiotics. Special antibacterial shampoos may also be prescribed to help heal lesions on the skin. If the cat’s immune system is particularly weak, the vet may prescribe drugs that will help boost the immune system and fight off infection.
Other treatment methods may vary depending on the underlying cause of the infection. If a flea infestation has caused the infection, your vet will use flea medication to eradicate the infestation. The underlying cause must be treated, or else the infection will recur.
Recovery of Staph Infection in Cats
Recovery and prognosis will depend on the underlying cause. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully. Antibiotic regimens typically last from six to eight weeks. It is imperative that you administer the medication for the entire recommended duration of treatment, even if the infection starts to clear up. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence and spread of the infection.
In some cases, the infection will recur even if the underlying cause is treated. This is usually a sign that your cat has Staphylococcus hypersensitivity, or an allergy to the bacteria. This condition is not the same as a staph infection and will require more aggressive and potentially long-term treatment.
Certain types of staph infection are resistant to antibiotics. If your cat’s symptoms aren’t going away even with antibiotic treatment or if the condition appears to be getting worse, you’ll need to consult your vet right away. They will be able to advise you on a customized treatment plan.
Staph infection may be prevented through good hygiene and sanitation measures. Always ensure that your cat is clean and kept free of fleas. Monthly flea medications may be recommended or prescribed by your vet. If you live in a multi-cat household, be aware that staph infection is contagious to a degree. It may be a good idea to keep the infected cat separated from your other cats until the infection clears up.
Staph Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat started with a small pink spot with missing hair by his tail. He licks it often and its now turned into a quarter sized leison. For the most part everything else seems normal expect for the fact that hes a indoor outdoor cat that loves to hunt rats and wont leave the house at all now. He is also more needy for attetion then normal. Is it possiable for it to ne staph or just a wound he wont stop messing with?
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