Azithromycin: An Antibiotic for Treating Bacterial Infections in Cats

by beaconpet
Azithromycin: An Antibiotic for Treating Bacterial Infections in Cats

Azithromycin is an antibiotic commonly prescribed for cats to treat bacterial infections, especially respiratory infections. It’s important for Beaconpet to follow your veterinarian’s instructions exactly when using this medication to avoid any complications. Although there can be side effects and adverse reactions in cats, they are not very common. Azithromycin belongs to a group of drugs called macrolide antibiotics, which are mainly used to treat specific bacterial infections. It works by stopping bacteria from producing important proteins. Although it is not the antibiotic of first choice for treating upper respiratory tract infections in cats, it may be effective in certain cases. Your veterinarian will determine whether antibiotics are necessary and may perform culture and sensitivity testing before prescribing azithromycin. Medications come in different forms such as capsules, tablets, and liquids, and it is important to give the correct dosage based on your cat’s weight. While side effects are rare, it can cause gastrointestinal upset and, in rare cases, hypersensitivity reactions.It is essential to consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice any abnormal behavior or physical signs in your cat while on this medication. Pre-existing medical conditions and current medications should also be discussed with your veterinarian to assess any potential risk factors.

Azithromycin: An Antibiotic for Treating Bacterial Infections in Cats

Azithromycin: An Antibiotic for Treating Bacterial Infections in Cats

When it comes to keeping our furry friends healthy, it’s important to be informed about the medications that can aid in their treatment. Azithromycin is one such antibiotic that is commonly prescribed to cats for bacterial infections, especially in the respiratory tract. In this article, we’ll explore what azithromycin is, its uses, dosage and administration, side effects, and risk factors. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of how azithromycin can help your cat.

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What Is Azithromycin?

Azithromycin is an antibiotic that belongs to the class of drugs called macrolide antibiotics. These drugs are primarily used for treating specific bacterial infections. Azithromycin works by preventing the bacteria from making critical proteins, thus slowing down their growth. It typically has bacteriostatic effects, meaning that it doesn’t directly kill the bacteria but allows the cat’s immune system to combat the infection.


Azithromycin is most commonly used in cats to treat certain types of bacterial infections, particularly those that affect the upper respiratory tract. Bacteria such as Bordetella, Streptococcus, Mycoplasma, and Staphylococcus species are often targeted by this antibiotic. While it may not be the first choice antibiotic for these infections, azithromycin possesses properties that make it effective under the right circumstances. Your veterinarian will determine whether antibiotics are necessary and may conduct a culture and sensitivity test before prescribing azithromycin. It’s worth noting that some upper respiratory infections in cats may originate from uncomplicated viral infections, which may not always require antibiotic treatment.

Dosage and Administration

Dosage and Administration

Azithromycin is available in different forms, including capsules, tablets, and liquid formulations that are administered orally. There is also an injectable form that is given as a subcutaneous injection under the skin, typically in a veterinary office. It’s crucial to carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions for administering azithromycin since the dosage is based on your cat’s weight. At present, there is no specific veterinary formulation for azithromycin, so human formulations, such as Zithromax, are typically prescribed. In some cases, the medication can be compounded into a liquid or chewable form with flavors like tuna or chicken to make it more appealing to your cat.

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Side Effects

In general, azithromycin is safe for use in cats and has limited side effects. Nonetheless, it can sometimes cause digestive tract upset, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, and decreased appetite if the cat experiences nausea. To minimize the chances of these symptoms, it’s usually recommended to administer the medication on a full stomach or shortly after eating. Additionally, since azithromycin is metabolized by the liver, there may be instances where it elevates liver enzymes in a cat’s blood test results. Hypersensitivity reactions, though rare, are the most severe side effects of azithromycin. These reactions can cause severe allergic responses like hives, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to seek immediate veterinary attention. Your veterinarian determined that the benefits of prescribing azithromycin outweighed the risks for your cat, but if you notice any abnormal behavior or physical signs, it’s best to consult your vet before continuing the medication.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Before starting any new medication, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian, especially if your cat has existing medical conditions or is taking other medications. There are several risk factors to consider, such as liver disease, which can increase the likelihood of complications when using azithromycin. Certain medications can also potentially interfere with the effectiveness of azithromycin, so always inform your veterinarian about any medications your cat is currently taking. Lastly, antibiotic resistance is a concern. Over time, the bacteria in your cat’s body can develop resistance to an antibiotic, rendering it ineffective. If you observe the return of your cat’s illness symptoms despite continued treatment, it’s important to notify your veterinarian to reassess the situation.

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In conclusion, azithromycin is an antibiotic commonly prescribed to cats for treating bacterial infections, especially those affecting the upper respiratory tract. It belongs to the class of macrolide antibiotics and works by inhibiting critical protein synthesis in bacteria. While it may not always be the first choice antibiotic, it is effective in certain circumstances. Careful adherence to your veterinarian’s instructions is key to administering azithromycin properly. While side effects are generally limited, it’s important to be aware of potential digestive upset, liver enzyme elevations, and hypersensitivity reactions. By consulting with your veterinarian, closely monitoring your cat’s health, and promptly reporting any signs of illness, you can ensure the best treatment outcomes for your furry friend.


  1. Lappin, et al. Antimicrobial use Guidelines for Treatment of Respiratory Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats: Antimicrobial Guidelines Working Group of the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, vol. 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 279-294., doi:10.1111/jvim.14627
  2. Brooks, Wendy DVM DABVP. Azithromycin (Zithromax). March 2020.

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