When Antibiotics Won’t Work for Your Cat

by | Nov 17, 2023

Activities for indoor cats to reduce obesity

devon rex cat having his medication
As a cat owner, seeing your furry friend unwell can be a stressful experience. When antibiotics are prescribed for your pet, it may seem like a relief – but sometimes antibiotics are not the solution to your cat’s health issues. Being aware of the reasons why antibiotics may not work in certain situations can help you better manage your cat’s health. In this blog, we’ll explore the different reasons antibiotics may not be prescribed or be effective, helping you become a more informed cat owner.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria:

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria have been exposed to an antibiotic, but the bacteria wasn’t fully killed causing them to develop the ability to recognize and combat antibiotics. Resistance to antibiotics can occur when there is no concurrent bacterial infection or overgrowth, at a dosage too low to be effective, or when the full course of antibiotics isn’t given or is too short term for the rate of infection. Due to these factors, the antibiotics don’t have the desired effect. This is a growing problem among humans, cats, and other animals. At the Cat Hospital, whenever possible, we check your cat’s past history because we know that overuse of antibiotics may have long-term health issues for your cat and our community. Being careful with the use of antibiotics can help prevent antibiotic resistance for everyone.

Viral diseases:

Antibiotics are specifically designed to fight bacteria, not viral infections. It is common for cats to suffer from viral respiratory diseases like Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) or Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Unfortunately, antibiotics will not treat these conditions, as they have no effect on a virus. Your vet at The Cat Hospital can explain to you the differences between bacterial and viral diseases and avoid any unnecessary confusion about antibiotics.

Secondary infections:

Sometimes, bacterial infections can result from unresolved primary diseases. If a cat is suffering from an ongoing viral infection a build up of bacteria can create a secondary infection, if an infected cat has the added complication of a more than one type of bacteria, or if an infection has been left untreated for so long it encompasses more than one organ, there could be a secondary infection complicating treatment. However, this is rare, and cats visiting our hospital would only be treated with antibiotics when they are clearly required.

Resistance testing:

Testing to identify resistance to antibiotics is possible, but this is typically not undertaken until we see how effective the first round of antibiotic treatment is. Additional tests can help veterinarians pinpoint the exact bacteria causing your cat’s illness, which antibiotics the bacteria are resistance to, and which ones the bacteria are sensitive to allowing them to recommend a more effective treatment.
As a cat owner, it’s important to recognize the reasons why antibiotics may not be effective in certain situations. Overusing antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can have long-term health effects on you and your cat. If you are unsure whether antibiotics are the best course of action for your cat, speak to our veterinarians about what options are available to treat your cat’s specific health needs. The Cat Hospital of Kamloops is always available for consultation and advice. Remember, responsible use of antibiotics is the best way to keep your furry friend healthy.
Cute cat at veterinary


If you have any questions about antibiotic use for cats, call us, the only veterinary cat clinic in Kamloops that offers a full list of services to keep your feline friend healthy. We provide consultations, wellness exams, X-rays and imaging, soft tissue surgery, dental care, diagnostics, spaying and neutering services for cats. We love cats, and we know you do too!
Call Us Today (236) 425-1111 | Visit Our Office at 1338 Battle St., Kamloops BC | Email Us: info@thecathospital.ca