Can You Give Cats Amoxicillin? - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects
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Amoxicillin is an antibiotic widely used in human medicine. While we should always take the prescribed dosage, some people either do not or for whatever reason have some extra in their medicine cabinet. If we see that our cat is suffering from an infection, we will want to do anything we can to help ease any suffering. In this case, we may think giving amoxicillin to the cat will be beneficial. However, not all antibiotics work for all bacteria, not all infections are bacterial, not all human drugs can be used on cats and not all infections require antibiotics.
At AnimalWised, we ask can you give cats amoxicillin? We look at what cases the antibiotic may be administered by understanding the uses, dosage and side effects of the drug.
What is amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is a type of broad-spectrum beta-lactam (β-lactam) antibiotic, types of antibiotics which contain a common type of organic compound. It is also one of the most commonly used antibiotics in the world. It also belongs to a group of antibiotics known as aminopenicillins and their effect is bactericidal, killing a large range of bacteria, but not all of them.
Specifically, amoxicillin acts against certain Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. It is administered orally and reaches its maximum plasma concentration (i.e. the amount in the blood) in one to two hours. When eliminated, it is processed mainly by the kidneys. However, it can be excreted via milk in small amounts. It is frequently combined with clavulanic acid as this helps to beat bacterial resistance.
Cats can be given amoxicillin. While there are many medicines suitable for human use which are unsuitable for cats, amoxicillin is not one of them. The same basic effects of the drug work on cats and can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments, which we detail below.
Amoxicillin for humans is usually prepared in tablet form, but it is often administered to cats in a paste or oral suspension, as well as pills. Our veterinarian will decide on the most suitable administration method and an injectable form is also available.
Why is amoxicillin given to cats?
All antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and amoxicillin is no exception. Given the wide spectrum of applications, it can be used to treat a wide range of infections. For example, it is commonly prescribed for treatment of infected wounds and abscesses. This is because the bacteria often present in these cases is sensitive to amoxicillin.
Amoxicillin is often given to cats with outside access. This is because they are more likely to get into fights with other cats or injure themselves on hazardous material leading to an infected wound. Non-castrated males are also more susceptible since they are more likely to fight or get into mischief.
This type of antibiotic for cats is also used in the treatment of urogenital problems, often affecting males due to their protruding genitals. Respiratory infections are also treated by amoxicillin, but it will depend on the specific infection. Many respiratory illnesses are caused by viral infections which cannot be treated by amoxicillin, although it may be prescribed to treat secondary bacterial infections. A typical example is rhinotracheitis in cats. Amoxicillin with clavulanic acid is common in these circumstances. It can also be used for gastrointestinal infections.
Can amoxicillin be given to kittens?
It is indeed possible to give amoxicillin to kittens or young cats for the pathologies mentioned above. In fact, rhinotracheitis is particular prevalent in kittens. For this reason, amoxicillin prescriptions for kittens are fairly common.
However, since kittens are vulnerable and are yet to establish a clinical history, a veterinarian will need to determine the right course of action. If any drug is administered improperly, it can have adverse side effects, even antibiotics. When give to a vulnerable kitten, the risk is even higher.
Amoxicillin dosage for cats
As with any drug, we need to be careful. Antibiotics are powerful and we should never administer them to our cat without instruction from our veterinarian. There are various reasons why. One of the main examples is that misuse of antibiotics will increase bacterial resistance. This means administering them for the wrong type of infection, providing inadequate doses, not completing the full prescription or giving them to an otherwise healthy cat. The result is that antibiotics may not be effective in the future when they are really needed.
The more bacterial resistance increases as a society, the more powerful antibiotics need to be. However, there is a risk that antimicrobial resistance will mean antibiotics will be less effective in the future to the point that animals will be much more susceptible to infection. This is a problem in both human and veterinary medicine.
As for the dosage of amoxicillin for cats, it will really depend on various factors which include:
- The cat's weight
- The extent of the infection
- The type of drug
These issues affect the dosage as the veterinarian needs to prescribe an amount which is effective and safe. For this reason, it is not possible to give a dosage for amoxicillin for cats as it will depend on each individual clinical case.
What we can say is that amoxicillin is usually administered one to three times a day. Again, this will depend on the above factors, but it needs to be taken with food to avoid digestive problems. In cats, amoxicillin treatments will usually last between five and seven days, although they can be more prolonged depending on the extent of the infection. In any case, when no improvement is seen after the first few days of treatment, the veterinarian needs to be informed.
Contraindications of amoxicillin for cats
Amoxicillin interacts with some other drugs which may be given to cats. If our cat is taking any other medication or has any underlying medical condition, the veterinarian needs to be informed. In the case of pregnant or lactating cats, the veterinarian will have to assess administration based on risks versus benefits. Of course, if a cat has previously shown to have an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, it should be not administered again.
To know more about various drugs which can be administered to cats, you can look at this article on Buprenex for cats.
Side Effects of Amoxicillin for Cats
In general, amoxicillin is an antibiotic which will have minimal adverse side effects when administered carefully within the above parameters. However, it is possible some digestive disturbances might arise such as diarrhea and vomiting or even appetite loss. If we do see any adverse side effects from amoxicillin for cats, we need to inform the vet. They may need to suspend treatment or treat any secondary problems. Symptoms usually end when administration does.
Additionally, hypersensitivity may occur in some cats. This will lead to skin rashes (not to be confused with problems like scabies in cats), fever and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock. In these cases you will need to go to the veterinarian to stop the effects or even a veterinary hospital in case of emergency.
Also, side effects will occur in any cat if too much has been ingested. Overdose of amoxicillin can lead to poisoning which results in liver and kidney failure in cats. It can also cause acute respiratory disorder and even cardiac arrest. In these rare cases, it is vital they are taken to an emergency veterinary hospital. As you can see, it is vital we pay attention to the directives of the veterinarian. It is not appropriate to medicate the cat with amoxicillin of our own volition.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
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- Roy J., et al. (2007). Clinical and in vitro efficacy of amoxicilin against bacteria associated with feline skin wounds and abscesses. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 48(6), 607-611.