Septic Arthritis In Cats: What Do You Need To Know About It?


While arthritis, in general, is the inflammation of one or more bone joints, the septic arthritis in cats is the inflammation of the joints in addition to the existence of a microorganism that causes disease, commonly bacterial, within the fluid of the joint/s affected. In this article, we will be discussing further about this feline condition. If you are interested, feel free to give this article a read.

Septic Arthritis in Cats: What is this feline condition?

Veterinarians explain that septic arthritis in cats is a malady by a particular several bacteria, feline calcivirus, or a fungi. Conditions, just like Addison’s disease, diabetes, an existing osteoarthritis, an intra-articular injection, or a past-penetrating injuries might make a cat more susceptible to the condition.

Moreover, septic arthritis in cats is due to a bacteria, which causes disease, abscesses, as well as infections within the tissues and joints of a cat. Sepsis and bacteria may develop inside one or more joints in the body of the cat, this particular infection is what causes the joint inflammation’s characteristic known commonly as arthritis. Though septic arthritis in cats is common in dogs, it is much rarer in cats. Various kinds of bacteria may lead to the development of the septic arthritis. Fungal agents and feline calcivirus may also cause the condition.

Causes of Feline Septic Arthritis

The causes of septic arthritis in cats are actually varied, ranging from infection to injury or an existing arthritis:

Any one of the following infection, viruses or bacteria may enter the body of the cat after a probing surgery or injury, thus leading to the septic arthritis development.

  • Cryptococcus
  • Coccidioides
  • Biastomyces
  • Leishmanial
  • Mycoplasma
  • Feline calcivirus
  • Peptostreptococcus
  • Fusobacterium
  • Propionibacterium
  • Bacteroides
  • Streptococci
  • Coliform bacteria
  • Staphylococci
  • Pasteurella bacteria
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Spirochetes
  • Rickettsia spp. , as well as
  • Bacteria, which enters the cat’s bloodstream

Further, some cats might live with one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Past trauma, which penetrated the joint/s affected
  • Steroidal intra-articular injection
  • Pre-existing damage to the joint/s
  • Existing bony osteoarthritis or arthritis
  • Disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Drug therapy, which suppresses the immune response of the cat, as well as
  • Addison’s disease or hypoadrenocorticism

Symptoms of Feline Septic Arthritis

A cat that has septic arthritis may be in obvious pain or not feeling well. The signs and symptoms of septic arthritis in cats include the following:

  • Poor range of motion in the affected joint/s
  • Affected joints are hot when touched
  • Swollen joint/s
  • Lameness
  • Sluggishness or listlessness
  • Stiffness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite, as well as
  • Pain the affected joint/s

Prognosis of Feline Septic Arthritis

The veterinarian who suspects septic arthritis observes the symptoms of the cats. Further, they will take a comprehensive medical history of the cat, asking the owner regarding past fights, illnesses or injuries, which may have instigated the condition.

Moreover, the veterinarian will run some laboratory tests, including urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and CBC. In addition, in case the vet has already started to suspect septic arthritis, they’ll order x-rays, which will allow them to look for some changes on the cat’s joints. In case the vet sees abnormal or unusual bone formations, irregular joint spaces, or bone destruction, this may lead them in narrowing the prognosis down, yet the process is not yet done.

Furthermore, the cat may also be anesthetized and the fluid might be removed from the affected joint/s. Additionally, the vet is going to look for an abnormal amount of fluid in these particular spaces, a quantity of inflammatory cells, an uncommon fluid color, in case the cause of the condition is bacterial, any bacteria, which might be present.

Culturing the joint fluid may allow the microorganism that causes the condition to develop in the laboratory. This is beneficial for the vets to make a proper diagnosis. It is also important to get a precise prognosis as soon as possible, in order to help the cat in making a full recovery. In the event that the vet finds more white blood cells, the prognosis more precise.

Treatment for Feline Septic Arthritis

After taking the joint and blood samples, as well as confirming a precise prognosis of the bacterial infection, antibiotics may be given in countering the infection. Which antibiotic medication will work best for the cat may depend on the results of the sensitivity and culture testing –both of which will tell the vet regarding the microorganism that’s involved in the joint infection.

Moreover, the affected joint might need to be washed and drained, in order to avoid more damage. In the patients with chronic joint infections, surgical procedure might be needed in removing the debris, as well as clean and wash the joints. Additionally, a catheter is commonly placed throughout the surgery, in order to allow continuous drainage for several days.

One type of endoscopy known as arthroscopy is inserted in the joint via a small incision. Moreover, this is one more technique in allowing for a close examination of the joints, as well as may be used in treating the interior of the joint, and may sometimes be essential in treating the interior of the joint. In comparison to surgery, this is lesser invasive.


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