Plague In Cats: Specifics You Need To Know About It


Plague is due to a parasitic genus –Yersinia pestis. This bacterial disease occurs worldwide. The ones that caries / spreads this disease include the mice, squirrels, and rats. The plague in cats is spread commonly when a rodent is bitten by or bites a cat. In this article, we will be discussing more about this feline condition –what causes it, what are its symptoms, as well as its prognosis and possible treatments. Read on to learn more!

Plague in Cats: What is this feline condition?

In the actual fact, there are three types of plague in cats. The most common of which is known as bubonic. Moroever, the bubonic plague may manifest after the infected fleas gets bitten new hosts and the adjacent lymph nodes gets to respond from it. Further, this is what makes the lymph nodes swell and develop disease-ridden lesions or buboes.

On the other hand, the next kind of plague is the septicemic plague. In this form, the virus may spread all throughout the bloodstream to some other organs and then infect them. Additionally, the last among the forms of plague is the rarest and the most deadly ones, with 90% of coarse cases lead to death. It is known as the pneumonic plague. It spreads via some infectious respiratory drips.

The Yersinia pestis infection may cause what’s usually known as “plague” in the mammals. Further, it’s carried by all kinds of rodents. Frequently, rodent fleas may spread the condition through feeding on an anima that’s infected, transporting to some other animals, as well as vomiting tissues into another animal. It may also be transmitted through scratches, bites, or sneezes and coughs from an animal that’s infected, even though this is lesser common. Moreover, cats are tremendously vulnerable to Y. pestis.

Causes of Cat Plague

Fleas are actually the most common among all the carriers of plague in the kingdom mammalia. Merely the rodent fleas transmit Y. pestis. It must be well-noted that in the regions where the rodent fleas are typical to see, cat and dog fleas aren’t common (vice versa).

The possible causes of plague in cats include the following:

  • Roaming in an area infected
  • Getting in contact with some other infected mammals
  • Eating and hunting infected rodents
  • Nose and mouth exposure to the infected rodents
  • Infected bites of rodent flea

Symptoms of Cat Plague

The three different manifestations of plague have some symptoms in common, including:  Weight loss

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Additional symptoms vary with the nature of the infection:

Bubonic Plague

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Skin abscesses
  • Eye discharge
  • Cellulitis
  • Coma

Septicemic Plague

  • Protracted time for the blood to top-up on the foot pads
  • Blood clots
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Weak pulse

Pneumonic Plague

  • Harsh lung sounds
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Protracted time for the blood to top-up on the foot pads
  • Blood clots
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Weak pulse

Prognosis in Cat Plague

Upon the arrival to the vet clinic, a thorough physical exam may be performed. The vet may try to distinguish the symptoms of plague in cats with some other bacterial infections. Miniscule exam may also need to be completed of liver tissue, blood, lymph node tissue, spleen tissue, bone marrow or lung tissue. In the event that these testers check gram-negative, as well as comprise a safety pin-like form, it is much likely that the Y. pestis is existent. 

The vet may also contact a health official to look for the nearest testing centers, in order to send the samples. Moreover, the samples should be frozen before it’ll be sent. The whole process may be accomplished in hours. Further, the sample must be taken right before any antibiotics are administered as well. It’s possible in some instances to conduct a swab test if the mouth lesions are existent. This might be less hostile than gathering tissue samples. Furthermore, the feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus must be tested for and excluded as well. 

Treatments for Cat Plague

The treatment for plague in cats must start as soon as the samples have successfully been gathered, even right before a prognosis verification has been done. The earlier that the treatment starts, the better the chances of survival for the cat. 


The one and the only successful way in fighting against plague in cats is via the administration of antibiotics. The Streptomycin has best rate but is very hard to come by in vet clinics, since it’s an antibiotic for humans. Moreover, the Gentamicin has been proven to be efficient as well. In case the infection’s still in the early phases and the cat isn’t feeling any impediments, the doxycycline might be administered. Chloramphenicol and Tetracycline are the other possible antibiotic choices. In the beginning, the treatment plans may be given via injection,. However, after 3 days of close observing in the hospital, if the cat’s favorably responding, oral antibiotic may be recommended and the cat may already be sent home. After the 72-hour antibiotics treatment, even the pneumonic plague is well-thought-out to not be contagious anymore.


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