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Our guide covers all you need to know about chlamydia felis in cats, including symptoms and how to treat an infection.

What is chlamydia felis?

Chlamydia felis, previously known as chlamydophila, is an infection in cats caused by a certain type of bacteria. Chlamydia felis infection is relatively common in cats – it is thought to be a cause of up to 30% of cases of chronic conjunctivitis. Although cats of all ages can be infected, the disease is most commonly seen in kittens or where cats are kept in groups or housed together.

Symptoms of chlamydia felis

The main symptom of a chlamydia felis infection in cats is conjunctivitis. You should look out for:

  • discharge from one or both eyes (watery at first, but later changing to thick and yellow)
  • red eyelids
  • swollen eyelids
  • your cat may keep their eyelids partly closed
  • your cat might rub their eyes more
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • being off their food
  • (sometimes) fever

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet for an appointment. They may take swabs to be sure the infection has been caused by chlamydia felis.

How is chlamydia felis treated?

Your cat’s treatment will depend on their infection and how severe it is. Your vet will be best placed to advise you, but treatments can include:

  • eye drops to help clear up an eye infection
  • antibiotics if their infection is really bad
  • anti-inflammatories to bring down any swelling

You can also help prevent further infection at home by always washing your hands after touching your cat. This will help to stop the spread of any bacteria. You should also wash your cat’s blankets and bedding with a pet-safe detergent on a high temperature to kill any bacteria that might still be in the fabric.

How long will my cat be unwell?

In the case of a mild infection, treatment will usually last around four weeks. However, if your cat’s infection is more severe they may need treatment for longer. Remember to follow your vet’s advice and if your cat is given any medication, make sure to give them the full course as your vet prescribes even if they start to look better.

Can chlamydia felis be cured?

The infection caused by chlamydia felis bacteria can be treated, however some cats can get chronic conjunctivitis as a result of a chlamydia felis infection. You should always take your cat to the vet as soon as they show any signs of being unwell.

How did my cat catch chlamydia felis?

Usually chlamydia felis spreads between cats. An infected cat can keep shedding the bacteria until the infection has been treated, so anything they touch may be contaminated and another cat can catch it from the bacteria left by the infected cat.

If you have more than one cat in your home, you will often find that if one of them has a chlamydia felis infection they will all become infected. Make sure to wash anything your infected cats touch to prevent it spreading further.

Can humans get chlamydia felis?

While there have been a couple of reports of humans catching conjunctivitis from their cat that had a chlamydia felis infection, the risk is extremely low. The bacteria have adapted to cats and so it only tends to infect cats. It is best to keep good hygiene though, such as washing your hands after touching your cat, to avoid spreading the infection.

Chlamydia felis is different to the type of chlamydia humans normally get. Your cat cannot give you this type of chlamydia and you in turn cannot give it to your cat.

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