Antibiotics For Cats

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a type of drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections as well as, some fungal and parasitic infections. They come in two forms, bacteriostatic which stop the bacteria reproducing or bacteriocide which kills the bacteria.

Antibiotics are available in tablet, injectable, ointment or liquid form.

Some diseases antibiotics can treat include the following:

  • Bite wound abscess – A pocket of pus in the tissue, most commonly associated with bite wounds
  • Bacterial skin infection – Usually from self-inflicted or acquired scratches
  • Eye infections
  • Bordetella – A highly infectious respiratory disease.
  • Pyometra – An infection of the uterus.
  • Chlamydia – A bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract.
  • Giardia – A protozoal infection of the intestinal tract.

What are the most common antibiotics used for cats?

Yes, there are several commonly prescribed antibiotics given to cats, including:

  • Gentamicin – Respiratory infections, skin and wound infections, bladder infections, eye infections, ear infections, pneumonia.
  • Amoxicillin and clavulanate (Clavulox/Clavamox) – Bladder infections, infected wounds, skin infections, bone infections, oral infections, pneumonia.
  • Enrofloxacin (Baytril) – Urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, wound and skin infections.
  • Oxytetracycline (Terramycin) – Sinus infections, oral infections, hemobartonellosis, eye infections, protozoan infections.
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax) – Commonly used to treat Chlamydia, Staphylococcus aureus infections, Streptococci infections, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), otitis media (middle ear infections) and Bartonella.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, as with any medication there is potential for side effects. Antibiotics not only target harmful bacteria but also the good bacteria found in the stomach. Side effects may vary depending on the antibiotics used.

Common side effects of antibiotics may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Allergic reaction including swelling, difficulty breathing, itching and scratching, rashes
  • Toxicity including damage to the liver, kidneys, optic nerves (hearing loss), bone marrow
  • Secondary infection
  • Abnormal growth or development of unborn kittens

A useful way to help common side effects is to give your cat some yoghurt or probiotics to replace the helpful bacteria killed by the medication or administer with food if it is safe to do so (always check with your veterinarian).

Where can I purchase cat antibiotics?

Your veterinarian must prescribe antibiotics for your cat and need to examine the cat to make a diagnosis. If a bacterial infection is suspected, the veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics. In some cases, will perform a culture and sensitivity of a tissue or discharge sample to determine the most effective antibiotic.

Always follow the recommended dose when giving your cat antibiotics and make sure you finish the course.

Never give your cat antibiotics prescribed for human use.

When antibiotics don’t work

Sometimes, antibiotics will fail to work for several reasons such as inappropriate selection, improper wound care, improper administration (such as not giving antibiotics on an empty stomach OR in other cases with food), not following dosage or frequency instructions. In some cases, the bacteria are resistant to that particular type of antibiotic, and another type will be necessary.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

The over-use and misuse of antibiotics have created strains of bacteria which are resistant to many common antibiotics.

Use antibiotics to treat bacterial (and in some cases fungal) infection. Always follow the instructions and finish the entire course, even if the cat seems better.



Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia