Bordetella Bronchiseptica

If you ever board your cat in a cattery, then it's particularly important to ensure vaccine protection against possible disease risks. Cat 'flu is one of the biggest risks in a cattery and recent research shows that a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica is responsible for some of these outbreaks. This is a highly contagious disease of the cat's respiratory tract and occurs where cats are in close contact with each other.

Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) is a bacterium closely related to Bordetella pertussis, the cause of whooping cough in man. It may cause problems either in conjunction with infection due to the cat ‘flu viruses (feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus) or may cause disease entirely in its own right. It can therefore be termed as a ‘primary pathogen’ in feline upper respiratory tract disease (FURTD).

Who is at risk?

Some may recognise that the Bordetella bacterium is more commonly associated with dogs and is one of the main causes of kennel cough. But, cats in homes with more than three cats, or in boarding and breeding catteries or rescue shelters are particularly at risk of disease due to this highly infectious organism. It has also been shown that this disease will spread from dogs to cats as well! Bordetella infections can be extremely serious in young kittens, leading to severe breathing difficulties and rapid death. Reports of the loss of whole litters of kittens to this infection are not uncommon.


How is it spread?

The bacterium is transmitted by direct contact with an infected cat or a contaminated environment, or by aerosol infection through sneezing or coughing. In addition, during the stress of mothering, an infected queen can often shed the Bb bacteria, also putting her kittens at risk.

Signs and symptoms

Signs include sneezing, snuffling, discharge from the nostrils, swollen glands, depression and fever. Coughing can also occur in some cats, but it is not as common as with the same infection in dogs. In the very young and weakened, the disease can prove to be very serious indeed and prove rapidly fatal.

Prevention and control

There is now an improved vaccination regime available which offers broader spectrum prevention of cat ‘flu and we recommend you consider these options if you are to board your pet. The vaccine offers immunity against Bordetella bronchiseptica for a full 12 months. This means that even if you leave your cat in the cattery more than once during the year, it only requires a single vaccination. It’s literally just a few drops of vaccine gently trickled into one nostril and your cat is protected in as little as 72 hours! (Ideally your cat should be vaccinated at least two weeks before arrival at the cattery).

Bordetella bronchiseptica cat and girl image