Bartonellosis: Cats

(Feline Bartonellosis)

Bartonella henselae in cats causes what is generally considered to be a self-limiting transient febrile illness for approximately 48-72 hours. Cats appear to tolerate chronic bacteraemia without obvious clinical abnormalities. Bacteraemia persists for months with clinical signs appearing in chronic infections when the animal is under stress or with concurrent disease.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

Anorexia (loss of appetite leading to weight loss)
Lymphadenopathy (swollen / enlarged lymph nodes)

Diagnostic Tests

Indirect Fluorescent Antibody (IFA) assay
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Serology has its limitations because it cannot differentiate between previous exposure and current active infection. Blood culture is the most accurate diagnosis of active infection in cats.


Doxycycline, Amoxicillin, Enrofloxacin, and Rifampin have all proved to be effective in reducing the level, and possibly the duration, of bacteraemia in the infected cat.

Doxycycline is used in the treatment of certain Bartonella species. However, data from experimentally and naturally infected cats indicates that a high dose (10mg/kg q12h for 4-6 week) may be necessary to eradicate infection of Bartonella henselae in both cats and dogs.

Follow-up cultures should be done at 2-4 week intervals to check treatment efficacy. Treatment is not always necessary but should definitely be pursued if the animal’s owner is immunocompromised.

Medical Abbreviations

by mouth
every 8 hours
every 12 hours
every 24 hours


There are currently no vaccines against Bartonellosis available for cats in the UK.


Further Information

Bartonellosis in Dogs

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