Actinomycosis in Cats

Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Actinomyces spp. bacterium.
Actinomyces spp. are a natural part of the cats flora. These inhibit the oral and nasopharyngeal membranes.

Actinomycosis affects a variety of animals including domestic, farm and companion animals. These are commonly seen in cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, horses.

Transmission happens by inhalation of grass awns – grass seeds which are sharp and barbed, capable of burrowing into the pets skin especially respiratory tract tissues. Injury or surface wounds inside the mouth, ulceration, bruises in the respiratory tract, scarring can lead to this bacteria penetrating the tissues. Once inside the tissues, Actinomyces spp. colonizes the area causing infection. This further leads to formation of abscess (pus) and draining wounds. Difficulty breathing, fever, swelling of the skin, sensitivity when touched are some of the noticeable signs.


Actinomyces spp. is a natural part of the cats body, Infections can occur via bacteria penetrating the underlying tissues from open wounds, cuts, scars, bruises, bite wounds, household injury. Periodontal disease – inflammation of the inner structures of the mouth is also known to cause this infection.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

Common symptoms seen are:
› Pyrexia (Fever)
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› weakness
› Inflammation of the skin
› abscess
› Draining Skin lesions
› Pain
› Hyperesthesia (Increased sensitivity to pain)
› Difficulty walking
› Osteomyelitis (Inflammation of bone caused by infection)
› Abdominal Distension (swelling)


Veterinarians will require a complete history of your cat which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done by:

› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Urinalysis
› Biochemical profile
› Cytology Tests


Once diagnosis confirms the presence of the bacteria causing the infection, treatment procedures include:
› Antibiotic medications
› Antibacterial medications
› Anti-inflammatory medications
› Drugs to treat secondary disease


Staying alert and recognizing the signs of a pets distress, keeping an eye for any wounds and discomfort, examining and early detection followed by prompt treatment can prevent the infection.

Home care

Home care should aim at improving the condition. Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection, if left unattended, it can cause mild to moderate health problems.

› A well planned, nutritious diet is necessary in such conditions. Routine and regular checkups to access the progress.
› Do not allow your pet to go through garbage bins, water sources, fecal infected areas.
› Regular cleaning of the teeth, mouth is recommended.
› There is high probability this infection can re-occur. Seek veterinarian advise post recovery on ways to prevent this from happening.

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