Chlamydia In Cats

Sometimes called Chlamydial Conjunctivitis, chlamydia in cats is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia felis. It is a bacteria that invades and infects your cat’s eyes and is one of the most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats. In fact, C. felis can cause up to 30% of chronic conjunctivitis in cats. Cats can become infected through direct contact with the bacteria, so any ocular or nasal secretions are considered to be infectious.

Cats living in multicat homes, catteries, or shelters are more at risk of contracting chlamydia. C. felis doesn’t survive long in the environment, so shared litterboxes, bowls, and toys, while they should still be properly disinfected, are not as likely to cause transmission. Although all cats can become infected by C. felis, young cats and kittens are the most susceptible.


Feline chlamydial conjunctivitis is an infection caused by a bacterial organism (called Chlamydophila felis). The most common signs of chlamydia in cats involve the eyes or the upper respiratory tract (nose or throat), and only when infection is not treated does it spread to the lungs. This bacteria has also been reported to infect the genital tract and joints.

Because chlamydia lives inside cells of the body and is not able to survive for long in the environment, spread of infection relies on direct or close contact with an infected cat. Following infection, the incubation period (the time between infection and development of clinical signs of disease) is between three and ten days.

Symptoms and Types

Chlamydiosis infection affects the respiratory system, the eyes, the gastrointestinal system and the reproduction systems of animals. Cats experience standard upper respiratory tract symptoms, including: 

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia, if left untreated

Causes of Chlamydia In Cats

While there is a higher prevalence of this infection in kittens, this condition is present in all ages and breeds. Cats that are kept in crowded quarters with other animals, as in a kennel, are at an increased risk of infection. Added to the risk is the ease with which this bacteria travels. Transmission can take place even without direct contact with an infected animal, as the molecules from a cough or sneeze can travel across a room, a human caretaker can carry the bacteria and spread it by touch, or the cat may come into contact with a contaminated object, such as in a bedding or feeding area.


Prevention of disease may be achieved by vaccination. However the vaccine will not prevent infection in every case but can reduce the severity of the disease. Vaccination is considered more important for multi-cat households which have a problem. Therefore discuss your requirements carefully with your veterinary surgeon. Your veterinary surgeon will advise you on the most appropriate vaccination schedule

Treatment of Cat Chlamydia

If your cat is diagnosed with chlamydia your vet’s first choice of treatment will be an oral antibiotic known as doxycycline. If your cat has any known allergy to doxycycline or to other tetracyclines let your vet know and they will prescribe a different antibiotic. If your cat is in noticeable discomfort, or if the symptoms seem severe enough, your vet may also prescribe an eye ointment or drops to give in conjunction with the oral antibiotics. Your vet may want to treat your cat for several weeks and, if you have other cats, they may also want to treat them for this infectious disease too.

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