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If your cat has an infection, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help them get better. Find out all about antibiotics for cats in our free guide.

Antibiotics are an important part of medicine for both us and our feline friends. They are used to treat bacterial infections. Unfortunately antibiotics are becoming less effective – something called antibiotic resistance. Your vet will always be very careful in prescribing your cat antibiotics.



Types of antibiotics for cats

There are lots of different types of antibiotics and your vet will prescribe the best type depending on your cat’s needs. They work by killing off bacteria causing an infection to make sure it can’t spread or get worse.

If your cat is prescribed antibiotics, they might come in several different forms, such as:

  • tablets
  • liquid
  • drops
  • creams
  • injections (your vet will usually give your cat this for you)

Why might my cat need antibiotics?

Your vet will prescribe antibiotics if they think your cat needs them for treatment of a bacterial infection that is unlikely to get better by itself. There could be lots of causes for this, such as:

  • skin infections
  • ear infections
  • urinary tract infections
  • wounds that have become infected
  • after some surgeries

Remember even if your cat has one of the above, they may not need antibiotics.

Why hasn’t my vet prescribed antibiotics? What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics aren’t always needed to help your cat get better. Sometimes, they need a different medication or their immune system will help them to get better by themselves. Your vet will look carefully at your cat’s condition and assess whether they need antibiotics, only prescribing them if they’re absolutely necessary.

Over the years antibiotics have become less effective at treating both humans and pets alike. Antibiotic resistance is where bacteria change over time and no longer respond to antibiotics. This is due to inappropriate use of antibiotics and will only get worse if we continue to overuse them, making bacterial infections much harder to treat.

Side effects of antibiotics in cats

Just like in humans, antibiotics in cats may cause some side effects depending on the type your cat is prescribed. Side effects are not very common, but you should look out for:

  • diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy

If you’re worried about your cat if they are showing side effects, call your vet. It’s important not to stop their course of antibiotics without speaking to your vet first, as it could mean the infection won’t get better.

Even if your cat seems better, make sure you give them the full course of antibiotics your vet prescribes.

How to give a cat antibiotics

How you give your cat their antibiotics will depend on the form they come in. We’ve put together some general guidance on how to give your cat their antibiotics:

  • tablets and liquids – try putting them in a tasty treat or even crushing tablets up in their favourite food (unless your vet has told you not to do this). Find out more on how to give your cat a tablet
  • creams – try to keep your cat nice and relaxed. Remember to reward them with their favourite treat or game and wear gloves to protect your skin
  • ear drops – much like creams, try to keep your cat as relaxed as possible. You might need someone to help you by holding them. Make sure you give them a reward after

Your vet can give you helpful tips on the best (and least stressful) way to give your cat their antibiotics.

Can I get antibiotics for my cat without a prescription in the UK?

You cannot get antibiotics for your cat without a prescription. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics if they think they are necessary to help your cat get better. They will also prescribe the correct amount your cat needs and give you advice on how much they should take and when. Giving unnecessary antibiotics will mean that more bacteria become resistant, making it much harder to treat bacterial infections.

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